Okay, wait one minute. We need to leave me sitting in my vehicle out back of my now defunct restaurant, wallowing in self-pity with an every increasing hatred for the asshole who had caused this. We need to leave that moment in time and turn back the clocks because what happens next won’t make sense without the telling of the other story that was going on during my time at the truck-stop. This is the story that matters.
In the quietness of our days, away from the demands of my new job managing this truck-stop, and caring for our children, and the constant behavioral adjustments being forced upon us from the cult leader, my wife and I would retreat to our master bedroom, our private patio, and most importantly our vehicle. During the months that we did not have a vehicle, nor were we employed, we took solace on our back patio, just off of our master bedroom, where we would swing late into the evenings, watching the sky, and holding each other close. Those were healing moments and were a very important place for us to rest our hearts and allow us the space to grieve the loss of our son together.
Our ‘wintering in the prairie golden city’ was a significant chapter for me in terms of my coming to grips with the loss of my son. I had sought some personal counselling when we were there and found it to be very helpful. Oddly enough, when we returned back to the valley city and started participating with the cult leader this is the one area that I kept from him. It was if I would allow him to use and abuse every other part of me to his sick satisfaction but I would not allow the memory and existence of my son to be used by him as well. Oh, he tried, in an almost I-told-you sort of way, reminding me of the stance he took near the beginning of our pregnancy journey, but that only drove a wedge between him and I and he very wisely backed off and stopped chasing after that prize that I was clutching to my chest.
Ironically, looking back, I think it was this precious part of our lives – both my wife’s and myself, that set in place the disruption to this cult existence. Like a pebble in one’s shoe it was a constant interruption to what had become my new ‘norm’ and served as just enough of a crack in an otherwise locked door, which, in the end provided the escape out of the cult. For, as life continued on and we were getting immersed in the cult, and now with a new job, as grief and loss always attest to, there were moments along that journey where I would be reminded of my incredible loss and would retreat – first by myself to begin processing that loss in the moment but inevitably that journey would bring my wife and I together to process that loss as a couple.
When I was starting at the truck-stop we purchased another vehicle – a temporary vehicle to help us get back on our feet. After a year of employment we purchased a newer and larger vehicle to accommodate our family’s needs, much to the frustration of our cult leader. However, we were not phased by his comments because of something far more powerful in our lives – the journey of grief.
My wife and I drive just for the sake of driving. When we were dating we would drive hours and hours and spend that time talking and laughing and crying together. It was what we did – it was foundational to our source of entertainment and that has continued for over the last two decades. It is not uncommon for us to get in the vehicle after work and go on a drive to nowhere for several hours so we can “solve the world’s problems” – and a few of our own along the way.
This was the one area of our lives that the cult leader could not get at. He couldn’t control it, perhaps because he didn’t really know about it. That didn’t matter though because during this period in our lives, driving and processing our loss went hand in hand and we would ferociously defend it. So drive we did and the many mountains that surrounded this valley provided us with relatively small getaways, yet secluded so we could drive and be detached from life and the various responsibilities that came with it.
It was in these mountains that we cried for our son. We mourned his loss and with it our dreams. But it was also in those same mountains that we found healing and over time we dusted off an old dream of ours – a dream that we talked about when we were dating and then engaged – when talking about family planning was an expected topic to bring up. During those early family planning conversations we talked about our desire to have children – lots of them – as many as we could and then when we couldn’t have them naturally we would look at adoption as a way to continue to grow our family.
It made sense to us and the thought brought us a lot of joy. Then we got married and soon after my wife was pregnant with our first child. The dream of adoption was put up on a shelf but not forgotten.
Now, up in those mountains, overlooking the valley city below, and safe from the world’s prying eyes, my wife and I reached up to that shelf and grabbed hold of that adoption dream, dusting it off and setting it on our laps to look at and to talk about.
Another dream was taking shape.