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

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"To Have Loved & Lost"© Part Six - Conclusion

Posted on December 14, 2016 at 1:05 AM

Two agonizingly long months had passed since Diana's beloved fiancé, Tom Caplain, died in a tragic freak car accident out west. What made it worse was the fact that he was alone, with no one at his side, and for Diana what felt like the distance to the moon away from her. One particularly sorrowful month had also passed since she and Tom were planning to get married. Now, it was September and Diana still struggled to cope with the terrible void in her life. She refused to show most of it outwardly in part because she was a woman, and from a firm upbringing. Otherwise, Diana thought of herself as the type of person who she hoped people would look up to for guidance. Even though, after weeks on end, she had none whatsoever to give. What was she to do? Putting on smiley face, pretending she was over her profound grief that few people around her seemed to understand, for Diana would not last for much longer.

The distance from where Tom had died felt too far away for Diana to resolve her emotional torment. There was a longing, a subliminal pull urging her to travel out west and face this current of sorrow directly. A few friends and relatives expressed concern for her well-being. However, Diana also felt something else. It was as if she had taken too long to grieve and felt guilty for some reason. It started only a couple weeks after Tom's death and steadily increased as the weeks went on up till now. A couple people had insisted that Diana should move on. In time she would find someone else to love, though this was not meant in an insensitive way. An unspoken social pressure seemed to urge Diana to hurry up without ever having come from one single person who told her so. From whom she could not figure out, but the guilt versus love conflict within her had nearly reached a tipping point.

In an effort to clear her mind, from her parent's home Diana ventured out on foot to a nearby wooded area that she had not been to since before Tom's death. There was a secluded spot here in the wilderness where they had come to several times during the first year they were together. As she approached on the thickly overgrown path, Diana was uncertain whether being there would bring out feelings of sadness or not. Thankfully, when the path broadened out to a twelve by eleven foot circular clearing, she found herself at relative peace instead. Diana spent the next half hour or so wandering around and remembering the times she and Tom had spent there. Camping overnight, hiking here and further to a trail just past the ridge, and several picnics including one where they got drenched by rain. Although this reminiscing was a welcomed relief, she did manage to reach a conclusion about her emotional conflict.

Diana knew that she had a genuine love for Tom. No one could tell her otherwise. The few pictures she could muster the strength to look at of the accident scene had quickly overwhelmed her with sadness and fear. Diana desperately wanted her loving beau back to hold her, and be all the charming passion that he had been in their lives. Though, a small part of her felt rather defiant to think that anyone could understand how devastated she honestly felt or to assume to know what she should do about it. Diana did not want to be disrespectful of her family or friends, but when it came down to the deep passionate connection she had with Tom it was very hard to let that love go. Finally, Diana admitted to herself that she needed to make a decision. Otherwise, she might have a mental or nervous breakdown. She could make the drive out west even if on her own. So, why not consider it then?

Diana returned to her parent's home and had a sit down talk with them about her decision. She was going to travel on her own out west, to Tom's crash site, so she could mourn him there and finally get the closure she needed. While she had not always seen eye to eye with them, her parents were still a source of wisdom and guidance that Diana respected and at times did need. Her mother felt that the emotional pursuit of this absolution was a bit foolish and an unnecessary time away from pursuing a career. Her father agreed, but added that she should follow her heart. Being so far from her, Tom had likely been the source of her emotional unrest because of the distance between them when he had passed on. Diana was strong willed like her maternal grandmother and mother. She needed to do what felt right. No one could decide that for her. And so, after much thought and counsel, Diana finally made up her mind.

She would travel from her hometown here, along the eastern Midwest, through no fewer than ten states out west. There was no doubt that such a trip would test Diana's strength of will and ability to make it on her own. There was also nothing to change her mind either. Diana happened to be in between jobs for enough time to pull off the trip and just enough extra money saved to cover expenses. Her trusty and rugged old station wagon, the first car Diana ever had, was in good enough shape to handle the long journey. At least she hoped it was. When her maternal grandmother heard about everything, even she graciously came over to visit and help to pack. She herself was an independent and a leap before looking kind of woman during her own youth. As it turned out, Diana's grandmother gave her a most valuable confidence she could have ever hoped for before embarking on such a daunting pilgrimage by herself.

But Diana was not intimidated at all by the challenges she set before her, besides this being a chance to choose to do what felt right in her heart. When she finally got her car fully packed and having triple checked that she did not forget anything, Diana even made one last check just to be sure. In a moment of inspiration, she remembered an old Overland Stagecoach bumper sticker she found a couple years ago at some random yard sale. There was no better time than now to use it. So, Diana placed the sticker squarely on the bumper of her car. As she departed, she waved to her parents and grandmother all watching from the front porch and waving goodbye to her. Boldly, Diana set out to head west like the frontiersmen of old. She traveled up to six hour stretches of driving, punctuated by spending six stays overnight in different cities. The sights she beheld along the way were wondrous, indeed.

After one o'clock in the afternoon on the sixth day, Diana set out upon the final leg of her journey into the western mountain ranges. Her destination would soon be within sight at last. Save for having to stop a couple times from cattle being herded across the lonely two-lane road. Plus one skunk too many that forced her to keep her windows up and miss out on experiencing some of the fresh mountain air. As Diana approached the town limits, a rather surreal scene unfolded before her across the mountainous horizon. A light misting rain began to fall, and darker clouds gathered overhead to create a foreboding sight of an approaching storm; a storm that marked Diana's poetic arrival. Just as a solemn sunset barely shined through the building clouds, repressed emotions started to rise up from within her. With a stern grip on the wheel and her trembling, anxious nerves, Diana thought about her decision to be there.

The sorrow of having lost someone she honestly loved so dearly and had hoped to have a charming and happy life with. Diana knew now more than ever that there was nothing wrong with the strength of the love she had for Tom. It was not her fault he had been taken away, and she acknowledged that most people would not have driven nearly this far to confront their grief. Or perhaps more people would have. Why was she even there to begin with? Why had she really come all this way? Diana knew it was because she had to do this. She needed to be here, even though part of her was afraid of handling the release of her strained emotions. She was a brave woman who had the strength to cope with such a tragic loss by embarking on this incredible journey on her own. To be a mature person who would make everyone proud. She was Diana Kuhn, after all. Regardless of the anxiety gnawing at her heels, she would do this.

Diana knew in her heart that Tom would be proud of her too.

Categories: Inspirational, "Just Before the Dawn"©

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