"Don't hit that deer, Andra!"
"I SEE IT, DAD!!!!!!"
"Golly Molly, Andra. You're gonna kill us all. I hope this restaurant is worth all this trouble."
I adore Andra. Two days before she left for this 444-mile walk we had a surprise celebration for her at The Belmont in Charleston, the first time I had successfully surprised her since the day 10 years before when I made my proposal to her that she be my wife for life. These ten years have been my best years, so far.
How could I possibly let her wander of into the dangers of the Natchez Trace? Throughout history, the Trace has been a haunt of notorious highwaymen, robbers and murderers.
MTM is from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He grew up eating things like frozen custard and cheese curds and Friday Fish Fry. He is a hot, slender man in spite of that early diet.
On the other hand, I have never lived north of the Mason-Dixon line. While I love to get out of The South, I would probably spontaneously combust if I tried to live anywhere else on earth. My Southern genes would likely attack themselves trying to recreate the hot, humid Hell I've always lived in.
You leave today. I told myself I wouldn’t cry.
I lied to myself. I couldn’t stop the flow. Since you came along almost 10 years ago, I could always pop in the car and see you whenever I wanted. You lived just across the river. It wasn’t far. Now, I wish I’d made a double dose of that drive. A triple dose. I never should’ve taken the closeness of giggling with you for granted.
Especially now that I don’t have its warming beacon in my world.
You’re somewhere in Georgia now. Maybe Alabama. On your way to Baton Rouge. Lots of cool experiences await you. Don’t hold yourself askance. When you’re scared to death, fight that fear. Experience all the nuanced richness of life. Embrace its flavors and textures, its colors and its hues. Do those things, even when facing them or leaving them brings you to tears.
Part of living is leaving every single thing we care about behind someday. It’s letting things go when it rends our souls. It’s forging something new in the daunting disarray of what’s left. It’s knowing that people love you, even if they can’t see you every day.
Until October, when I see you again. Be a firework in your world, Cayleigh.
I love you.