The primary reason we drove for our summer trip was because Danny has not yet been approved to fly. But the funny thing about this little rule is one of Danny’s bucket list items is an epic road trip. He has toyed with the idea of traveling to all the major league baseball stadiums, he has wondered about a “great American road trip” to see all the grand sites (Grand Canyon, Mount Rushmore, dip his toes in the oceans that line both sides of the country), and he has even tried to talk me into starting a company that would host big races – really a ploy to find a group to road trip with. In fact this little game of how to create the perfect road trip has taken up a lot of hours of our life. How would we do it – an RV or an airstream, camping versus hotel in between (which if I am going on this trip – you know how I voted….)? Which friends and family we could bother for a couch to crash on? In so many ways it is just one of those things we sorta expect to do in our life together, but we all know how hard those sorts of plans can be to keep. So this summer when we vowed to make a trip of our very own happen (most of our trips to this point have been crashing family vacations)it was actually pretty perfect that it would be a road trip. This was not our official bucket list trip…. but it is one we will remember forever.
As we revisit each of our destinations and why they held such a special place in our hearts, there is no question we had some awesome experiences. But there is definitely something we enjoy about the travel itself. From our very first summer dating to married life several years later, adventures in the car have been our love language. It is where we have the deepest conversations, its in those moments that all things feel possible and thus our biggest dreams are born, and in the passenger’s seat is when I tend to remember best the moments of 2005 that I knew that boy in the drivers seat was something extraordinary. And ya’ll know I love how life has a funny way of going in a circle – that first summer we adventured in Danny’s Ford Explorer and here we are now in the Explorer we bought just before getting married, experiencing a whole new life. It’s the little details like these that serve as the best reminders that we are all part of a plan and if you stop to connect the dots you might be amazed what you find!
While touring the open road, we had the fun opportunity to stop at Norte Dame and check out the campus and surrounding little town. It was a beautiful school that we were able to visit on a the perfect sunny day tha had a nice breeze and bright blue skies. Danny was excited to see a part of sports history he has always envisioned – touchdown Jesus – and I appreciated again that our life had gone from days on end at the hospital to Danny walking all over campus without so much as a cough. But there was also something special about this campus – a well known Catholic institution. It was walking through this year that I have never appreciated my faith so much. Both Danny and I have recognized the saving grace it placed on our past and the hope it gives for our future. God has positioned himself so clearly in the middle of our chaos and calmed the storms. And again we find reminders of the power of our Catholic heritage while visiting one of its well known institutions. It really may seem like I am reaching on some of these coincidences, but I can’t begin to tell you how wide your eyes open after you find God in the darkness….. you start to understand he is everywhere, thankfully. And it was very serendipitous how this little stop just popped up on our trip.
Our driving brought us a chance to talk, to snack endlessly, for countless cups of Starbucks, and even some nice naps…. but there is one thing I will always remember about our time on the open road: how fast it went. For months we have been riding the ups and downs of life and so has our marriage. You all know the fears I lived with and as we prepared for this trip a familiar sense of worry appeared. What if all this time in the car continued to lead us back to what had gone wrong? What if we are a few hours in and run out of things to say to each other realizing the damage we had feared had actually resulted in a breakdown in our friendship. What if something comes up that is hard to discuss and it leaves a dark cloud on our trip? When you go through transplant the what ifs are endless and already we have faced the what if about needing to do this again. It is only human to consider that possibility, when really we have no business doing that, no one knows what tomorrow holds. Even still we are weak creatures so Danny and I already have approached the idea and it is difficult to discuss. There is no doubt in my mind I wanted to take this trip and we would make lasting memories while enjoying it, but I worried that idle hours could present some challenges. Not a single challenge…. not a single problem…. not a worry or fear or frustration was exchanged. In fact we talked about some of the blessings of transplant that somehow had never come up. Danny shared with me how his lungs literally feel in his body and we agreed on the magic of the place we find ourselves occupying. The trip between Pittsburg and Chicago was our longest and I cherish that little spark of dread that rose to the surface as I could start to make out the Chicago skyline ahead…. this moment and time was over.
More to come on what Chicago had to offer….. but for now I just want to thank God for this road trip that left its mark on my heart. Oh and I think Danny probably wants to thank its success because now I am really pushing for the epic one to be sooner than just someday.
Thank you so much for reading and remember to make it a great day!