The windows to my minivan are cracked open and summer anthems play from the car stereo. Today my four kids and I drove from Kings Island to Miamisburg and back again. A hair over forty-five miles round trip.
On the drive I have passengers with me, three boys aged eight, six and five. All of whom would quickly clear their throats and add a half of a year to those ages I mentioned previously if they themselves were the tellers of this story; and a girl three and a half. Her curls bouncing in the summer air and as untamed as her God-given personality.
As I drove down State Route 741 I drove passed my high school, junior high, elementary school, hometown ice cream spot, dentist office, my father’s work place and the mall where I had my first job.
As I drove down 741 I remembered so many summers of my mother driving a minivan up and down the same road, windows down, some kind of music loud. Me in the backseat at eight. My sister six and my brother aged four.
I have so many sweet memories of watching my mother joyfully drive as we sat behind her in the passenger seats of the minivan. She was singing, silly, vulnerable and wildly free. Driving up and down that State Route road to take us to ice cream shops, dance practices, movies, Kings Island. Her smile from the front seat was vivid in my memories as I cruised my hometown streets with my own children on this summer afternoon.
In my own nature, seriousness, order and work first, play later are the traits which make me tick. It is quite difficult for me to find spaces where I can completely let go and be free from my internal to do list. My straight hair which would never hold a curl is as indicative to my personality as the three year old who has the bouncy curls, the one whose curls are as untamed as her God-given personality.
As I drove today down State Route 741, it felt like I was driving though so many memories. So many spaces in the nooks of my memories where beneath the pain of losing my mother there are so many happy smiles. So many joyful times of being in the backseat of the minivan and experiencing my mother singing, silly, vulnerable and wildly free.
For so many summers I have wanted to push her smile away because it was too painful for me to remember. Pain is the process by which I can access these memories and as I walk through the pain, I find joy on the other side and a challenge to live life in the same way my mother did. To break through the mold of who I think I am supposed to be. To let go of seriousness, order and work first, play later. To let the windows down, sing a little louder and feel the summer breeze tousle my straightened hair for a time.
To step out of who I think I should be and remember the parts of my mother which brought me joy. This is the medicine I need. This is why a drive down State Route 741, windows down and summer anthems loud is good for the soul.