I have made the drive from Edmonton to Victoria more than once. Never on my own. Indeed, the drive was a feature of my married life and Owen drove most of it. On Sunday morning, as I left Aunt Peanuts, when the sign said to turn right for Hope? That was further than I had ever driven alone through BC.
Past Kelowna, into Merrit is one of the highest passes in BC. That Sunday morning there was fog, snow, sleet, a bit of ice and the plows hadn’t been through. I have driven through the Rockies before, I have driven through snow, through fog, on uncleared roads.
I’ve just never done it on a pass that high, with all those factors, at the same time.
I am no stranger to ambiguity, to confusion. Your child’s death, a thing which plunges you unasked into an utterly foreign world, it teaches you to make your peace with ambiguity and confusion. The alternative is losing your mind. Some how, in Gabriel’s death I learned to marshal the skills I had, to beg, borrow and steal new skills. I learned to build on what I had and invent the new at the same time.
When it started to get dicey on the pass, I thought about all the things I’ve learned. How not to brake on the long inclines, to move slowly and deliberately while changing lanes or speed. I know to leave enough space, to watch the car in front of me when I can’t see the lane markers.
I also know this – once you start up the highway, you actually cannot turn around. You can’t stop. The only way through is, well, through.
So I know what to do in those situations. Marshal what you know. Learn the rest very quickly.
On the fourth of January last year, I asked Owen for a divorce. My choice came at the cost of hurting someone I once loved a great deal. It marked the final breaking of a promise that I thought would really be until death do us part.
I am eternally glad that people don’t ask if I am happier alone. I don’t know what to say. I don’t even know if happy is the right word. I don’t know if it will ever be the right word.
It’s been a year of managing things on my own. Putting skills together in new ways. Learning new ones. Finding my feet. Finding me.
Happy seems a small and silly word. I’m neither happy nor unhappy. I’m mostly content. More peaceful. More resilient.
It amused me to see the sign telling me to turn right for hope. It fascinated me that getting to Hope was harder than I thought it would be.
I thought I should tell you that.