Journeyman's Row
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***  October 11, 2016  -  June 30, 2021  ***

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"To Have Loved & Lost"© Part Four

Posted on December 12, 2016 at 1:00 AM

Thankful for directions to Tom's crash site by his former colleague, Avis, Diana left from the bustling college campus to make her way there. Though, she was not exactly in a hurry to arrive so quickly. Her apprehension began to increase the further she drove, as if to defend against the emotional showdown that lurked only a few miles away. Diana felt every bit of the unrest punctuated by even the slightest bumps in the road she was traveling. It was as if the crash site had become a sort of beacon. In an attempt to stall the anxiety she reassured herself of the strength of will and resilient woman that she was. Despite this effort, it was not as effective to keep her nerves calmed as she hoped. Diana was so distracted she passed the crash site. So she circled back around, and parked her trusty station wagon where it would be safest off of the road. Now, it was time to face her fears.

So quickly had Diana stepped out of her car that as soon as she heard the abrupt sound of the car door closing, it made her jump. Instinct immediately took over. On one hand, very slowly and methodically she tried to absorb the scene of the crash site. However, her mind feverishly attempted to visualize the accident itself. How had Tom died here? Where had he drawn his last breath? Did he have any regrets about them? Why him? Why had he been taken at such a vulnerable moment in her life? Dozens of questions clouded Diana's thoughts as the sights, sounds, and smells bombarded her senses. Her perception was enhanced by this, but made it more difficult to process everything. A trickle of breeze-swept sweat slipped down her temple without her even having left the side of her car. Diana dug deep within herself for what courage she had, and slowly made her way down the embankment.

A spot set perilously alongside a right curve of the road above, beset by a twenty foot steep drop down this embankment covered with large stones, errant branches, and a maze of small broken trees. Although any remains of Tom's car had been long since picked up, the disturbed woodlands around her told the story clearly enough. As she followed this rugged path, Diana was so focused on a particular tree below that she felt as if she was floating towards it. The rocky terrain beneath her feet hardly registered in her mind. This tree had been topped unevenly, with the base being what Tom had collided with. Due to the sideways skid over the road's edge and rolling several times, the vehicle hit the tree at the same time when it came to a halt. Reaching her hands out in front of her, Diana unsteadily approached the suspect tree trunk as her emotions rattled in their cage desperate to break free.

Diana touched the tree with her fingertips, grasped it with her hands and hugged it firmly in her arms before she slowly knelt down in pain at its scarred base. She remained just as silent and wholly unmoved for how long she could not know. Diana was afraid of what would happen if she let go of the tree, but her Pandora's Box began to open anyway despite her fears. What started out as a flood of tears streaming down her face from the sorrow and sheer emptiness she had held inside, in mere minutes took a sudden turn for the intense. Anger, fear, frustration, and frightful desperation at Tom being taken from her exploded from within. Diana pounded her fists into the dirt. She worked her way up higher and lobbed a dozen punches to the tree trunk itself. Finally throwing her arms out, Diana reared her head back and screamed in agony at the top of her lungs. Her battle cry carried only one painful word: Why?

After an immeasurable amount of time, Diana slowly descended from her furious outburst. The bulk of her repressed emotions left her momentarily numb from being so powerful and overwhelming. So, she leaned back on her knees and offered a silent tearful prayer of good will in memory of Tom. Finally, with labored effort, sore limbs, scraped and bruised knuckles, Diana picked herself up from the burdened ground. Wiping her face free of the dried tears and brushing away any mud and dirt from her pants, she looked around once more to absorb as much as she could remember. Then, Diana made the laborious climb back up to the roadside parking spot. Once at the top, she turned to take one last memorable glance at the crash site's landscape. Committing it to memory, she slipped into her station wagon and started the return trip back to town. She hoped that the worst was now finally over.

Her anxiety, however, had other plans. No more than a couple minutes into the drive Diana suddenly experienced a frightfully sharp flash of a vision. Lasting only an instant, her instincts and fear quickly identified what it was. At the same time, she struggled to keep from losing control of her car. A few passing car horns sounding off made her realize how close she nearly followed Tom to the same fate. Diana hastily pulled off the road and put her car quickly into park. Drawing both hands through her hair and leaning against the steering wheel for support, Diana tried to recover from what she could not believe just happened. The sharp fear of death, a cruel, clear sound of fiberglass and metal colliding, filled with the smell of fumes made it all too obvious what the brief vision was. She felt lucky not to have crashed. Diana had not experienced a flare up of anxiety this severe for several years.

As her white knuckled grip on the steering wheel weakened, Diana regained her senses and thought to understand why such anxiety had returned when it had. In years past, there was some depression she kept solely to herself, and a few close friends. It had never been anything more than what she could muster through on her own. Rather than letting the negative energy get the best of her, Diana confidently brushed aside her fears and calmed herself. She was Diana Kuhn; a strong young woman who had come this far to face her demons and grief. For the first time since Tom's passing, she felt surprised for having kept the upper hand over her emotions instead of reeling at their will. She seemed to have it in her to get through this difficult ordeal after all. Although, in a modest and mindful way. Giving herself one last breadth of focus, Diana turned back onto the road and resumed her trip back to town.

The town limits, streets, and sign posts graciously welcomed her return. But Diana's head had been nothing short of spinning when she finally parked her car back at the hotel. Memories of the crash site, mixed with memories of the last months she had seen Tom, still flickered through her mind. Her outburst had been uncharacteristic to say the least, but not entirely a surprise. Her love for Tom really was that strong. Luckily, Diana reminded herself, she had not crashed on the drive back. Instead, the reward for her courage had been the chance to find renewed strength right where she needed it to be. She faced her grief, and weathered the storm of how it unfolded. For now, Diana needed to focus on quelling her inner turmoil to keep it from resurfacing at the tavern get-together she was invited to by Tom's colleagues. So she took a shower, got cleaned up, and readied herself to face the friendly crowd.

Categories: Inspirational, "Just Before the Dawn"©

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