Tonight Val and Carter leave for a long drive to Florida. They are headed to her family reunion. Heading back home from dropping them off, crossing under the night sky in the midst of lightning, my mind went to the concept of the Journey.
As writers we talk about the Hero’s Journey. We know that stories follow a certain flow and that, most great ones, keep to this formula. Sometimes you’ll find a fresh take that will catch on but, looking back, the main points are the same.
On Sunday we went to the cemetery to visit the graves of my grandparents. I stood over the marker bearing my grandfather’s name, a small American flag blowing in the wind just above it.
I thought of the days we’d spent together.
He would take me fishing in the morning, park his old truck on the side of the road, and lead me around a pond large enough that we could have room to cast our lines. We’d get home to find my grandmother had made lunch; turkey sandwiches and fresh iced tea, and we’d sit on the porch.
He’d tell me about the war, about battles and marching for miles up the middle of Italy.
We had just told him about Val being pregnant with Aiden before he was called home to Heaven.
His journey had ended as mine continued.
The process is a double-edged sword. I get intimidated at the thought of what my boys will remember about growing up. It is inspiring to think of the road that remains and the work still to be done.
I know God isn’t finished with us.
I wish I’d learned to grasp his my grandfather’s sense of peace. He faced down enemies attempting to take his life, seen things I couldn’t have imagined, and was able to take his only grandson fishing on quiet mornings.
I wish I’d learned his strength. When he spoke, you listened. It was the virtue of a man of few words. He was a rock, in my memory, for better or worse a member of the generation that raised men without the attacks of today’s societal forces.
I’m working on learning his storytelling. In two sentences he’d given me an image: his back against a low concrete wall with chips of it flying in his face as bullets hit above. He was on a front line attack attempting to liberate a village of people he hadn’t known and would never see again, in the midst of a war that had taken him away from a wife and two children.
When he spoke, I could see it.
Tonight, I pray your journey is also inspiring. I pray you have a past you can draw from for strength, inspiration, or the anger to push through when you are on the last moment energy. Have courage.
Write your hero in a dark spot and watch them fight their way out.
Know that you will do the same.