grief & road trips

by Kaylah Stroup

Before I lost my mom, I didn’t realize how messy grief was. I knew people were sad after they lost a loved one but I didn’t understand the extent of it. I honestly feel really guilty about that. I think as a culture we could do better about talking about death and helping the grieving BUT that’s a whole different subject. I didn’t realize that grief would take all of the things I loved in life and tie them to my mom. Namely, road trips.

So, this hasn’t been a conclusive thing. Perhaps further down the grieving process, I’ll feel differently but sitting here editing photos tonight, I just wanna talk about my last road trip…

My mother, the vandal.
Couldn’t help but feel like this was from her. She knew how much Jeff and I loved to find money on the ground. She even gave any money she found on the ground to us. Finding money now feels like tiny gifts from her.

It’s an annual thing for Jeff and I to go to the desert. Sometimes we even go more than once a year. We fell in love out there. We got engaged out there, and gosh darn it, we even got married out there. Its undoubtedly OUR THING.

But, oooof, I’ll tell you what, this last trip was rough. When we hit the road it had been two months since I last saw my mom. I felt… okay? Ya know, okay considering the fact my mom had died two months prior. I was back in the habit of eating, showering, and working regularly. Bouts of sadness still struck but I was generally ‘fine’.

A view I wanted so badly to text her.

We left late on a Friday night after Jeff got off work. We thought it’d be a good idea to drive through the night, get the boring states (the ones we’re already familiar with) out of the way that way we wouldn’t be missing any new scenery in the darkness. With three of us taking turns, we all felt confident it’d be no big deal driving all night. I knew how my mom would have felt about that though. She’d have been so worried. I know she would have been texting me until the minute she fell asleep and again the moment she woke up, just checking to make sure we were okay.

I slept a lot of the first half of the drive. I woke up somewhere in Iowa and my first thought was “I should let mom know where we are!” Then, of course, came the sinking feeling. That feeling? It never left the rest of the trip.

Everywhere we went I thought of the pictures I should be sending her. Every morning I felt the urge to let her know we were up and what our plans were for the day. Each night I wanted to let her know we were safe in a hotel. The places we went were our own but somehow already haunted by her. She was absolutely everywhere but at the same time nowhere. I had never even gotten a chance to tell her we’d be going on this trip.

comment from instagram she left me in March on a photo of Ohio’s giant whale that I posted.
My first thought after getting here, to the whale in OK, was that comment.

I don’t want to say it ruined the trip for me. Obviously, I had tons of fun. The trip was a massive success. We saw so much and made tons of awesome memories. I guess I just thought it would be more healing for me than it was. I thought that because it was MY thing it’d be totally refreshing, that I could come home with a clear mind. I spent so much time on the verge of tears thinking about my mom though. I wept silently from time to time but tried my best to keep it bottled up. ...Ya know, until I saw her name on that pole at the abandoned motel. Then all bets were off, I did some true ugly crying there.

Maybe it’s no surprise at all the trip reminded me of my mom so much. I mean, as ‘okay’ as I try to be, I did just lose one of the absolute most important people in my life. It’s gonna be a little messy for a long while.

I took a photo of her and my dad in front of these arrows last summer.
I got married on top of that building but all I could picture was my mom sitting on the rock second to right the morning of my wedding.

I don’t want to be that girl that writes about grief. It ain’t pretty, and it’s certainly not fun. It’s raw, it’s real and right now it’s my reality. I’m doing my best but also feel like it’s a necessity that I share things like this from time to time.

Until I lost my mom, I didn’t realize the gravity of loss. It’s so heavy. I can’t offer to be a listening ear right now, I’m too fragile but please, know that if you’re going through some shit, you’re not alone. ❤️

You may also like