I was going through some more of my MP3s tonight because I’m really trying to thin out what’s on the hard drive, and burn to CD the things I can live without. While doing so, I came across an old song that brought back a memory. Robert and I had driven to Corpus Christi for the grand opening of the Texas State Aquarium back in the early 1990s. We were still living in San Antonio at the time so it was a nice little drive. We had plenty of our favorite tapes and a sack lunch for the ride. One of the songs on tap was Crowded House’s hit single, Don’t Dream It’s Over. It brought back a flood of memories of our life in San Antonio, when we just took off for a road trip on a moment’s notice, Robert at the wheel. And that particular day, it was nice out, but I don’t remember it being too hot. We walked a long way, I always had to take two or three steps to match Robert’s one step.
I remembered a lot of things that now seem so far in the past, because they’ll likely never happen again. How when we stood next to each other, he would casually drape his arm across my shoulder. How he would holler at me to keep step with him. Him mostly driving us where we needed to go and me sitting in the passenger seat, usually with my eyes closed (either because I was into whatever music was playing or because I was terrified of his driving!).
When Robert first became paralyzed, we always just assumed he would walk again. In fact, we never spoke about the proposition that he wouldn’t. It’s like we were both afraid to say it. If we didn’t say it, then it couldn’t be true, could it? So for the first six months or so, while he was still in the hospital, and later at TIRR, we figured he’d walk again, even if it was with a walker or braces. It’s been just over two years now since his injury. And although neither one of us has come right out and actually said it, we both know he won’t walk again. And I am sitting here now, barely able to hold back tears, tears I have not let myself cry for a long time, because if I feel bad about this, how must he feel?
Even though I’m sad about what was, I can still take comfort in the fact that we’ve come this far together and, at least outwardly, neither of us has fallen apart yet. We still take road trips, but now I am the driver. (Oh, is that cruel irony or what? Robert always hated the way I drove. He says I drive too cautiously and timidly. No, I’m not the one with a jillion million trillion speeding tickets scattered across seven states!) We may eventually get hand controls on the car so he can help drive on long road trips. And there are no spur of the moment trips anymore; each trip must be planned carefully and packing must be done even for a day trip.
But the words of the song echo my sentiments and I can at least smile when I hear them:
There’s a battle ahead, many battles are lost But you’ll never see the end of the road While you’re traveling with me