Sometimes, when I am out and about, I realize that I am not quite ready to go home. I need to find some stillness within myself before jumping back into the midst of the household.
My vehicle has always been my safe place to think, feel, and just generally let my heart and mind wander in whatever direction they feel compelled.
This morning, after dropping the kids at school, I realized today was one of those “need to get to the bottom of this emotion” sort of days. I wasn’t entirely sure what the emotion was, but I knew with enough driving, I would figure it out. So, I aimlessly drove through town and along back roads while I pondered.
Without realizing it, I ended up at “the bridge.” Back when I was young and in love, it was called “our bridge.”
Next week will mark thirty-one years since we met. Mere children. We dated for a while before he finally kissed me. When he did, it was here, at the bridge, on a day of warmth and sunshine.
Actually, we climbed over the bridge and down the creek bank until we came to a tree that branched over the water. He climbed the tree and nestled himself into a crook. I followed and nestled there with him. And that is where we shared our first kiss.
Over the years, the bridge remained significant. At one point, on an anniversary, he even put a padlock on it etched with our names and wedding date. We had seen bridges in Europe covered with the locks of lovers, but ours was the only one hanging high above Sugar Creek.
Over a quarter of a century after that first kiss, we shared our last…also on the bridge. It was another day of warmth and sunshine, the birds were singing, and the water was gently flowing. But the sentiments were vastly different.
I closed my eyes and said, “If I will it hard enough, I feel like when I open my eyes, we will be teenagers again, and all this pain and hurt will be gone. Maybe it will just have been an illusion or a bad dream.”
“I know,” he said quietly.
But it could not be so because once pain is inflicted, once a relationship is broken, you can’t just close your eyes and will yourself back to a better time. You must move forward and endure the pain, the loss, and the heartache.
I stepped from my vehicle and stood in the snow that had gathered at the edges of the bridge. The trees were black against a sky that was grey and dismal. The air was cold on my cheek. A cheek that had once been warmed not only by the sun, but by love.
Thin sheets of ice covered the water. Small animals had left tracks in the snow as they crossed from one bank to the other. Closing my eyes, I breathed deeply of the cold air and let it slowly release from my lungs. One final glance at the frozen waters below, and I was ready to go home.

Syndicated columnist Ginger Claremohr is an author, speaker, and mother of five. Follow her on Facebook, find her on the web: www.claremohr.com, or contact ginger@claremohr.com.