Nov 26, 2007

Road Maps

by Joyce DiPastena

[Note: I first wrote this in 2003, while exchanging “writing prompts” for a time with my dear friend, Kristine (who has since moved to New Mexico). I stumbled across it again during this Thanksgiving season while my sister, Janet, was visiting from Salt Lake City. Since she’s preparing to “leave me” once again today (we’ll be dashing to the airport as soon as I post this), I hope you all don’t mind me posting this in place of my usual blog. I’ll come up with something “new” next time, I promise!]

Road maps terrify me. Whether clear, straight lines or twisty, curvy scribbles of black, red, green, or blue, they dance in a bewildering maze before my eyes. I approach road maps warily. They must be absolutely simple and related very closely to paths that I already know. Familiar territory. That’s what my timid, driving heart caves.

Road maps are frightening and confusing when I’m forced to travel them alone. But I feel safe, even adventurous, when I have someone along to follow the road map with me. A companion, a friend.

The Holy Ghost is my companion and friend. I know that I shouldn’t be afraid when He is with me, that He will protect and guide me along my way. But sometimes, how I long for a physical, touchable body sitting next to me on the journey!

Last Friday, Janet and I used a road map to find the Fairytale Brownie Company in Chandler. The map was simple. I could probably have found my destination alone. But Janet made it an adventure. She made it fun. Helping me to watch the signs, calming me if I made a wrong turn, even exclaiming and laughing at unexpected discoveries, like the close proximity to the brownie company of the offices of Unisys, her lousiest performing stock company. (Who knew they had an office right in the heart of Chandler, Arizona? I tried to get her to walk inside and demand an explanation for their ineptness, but she refused.) Friday, I wasn’t afraid to follow the road map, because Janet was sitting right there in the car beside me.

Janet made the adventure fun. But on Monday, Janet was gone again. Flown back to Salt Lake City.

That seems to be the pattern of my life. Following the road maps of life alone. It’s lonely. It’s scary. No sooner do I get a friend, a companion, than she or he is gone again. They never stay. Always, they go away again, and I am left to find my way alone.

I know that Heavenly Father and Jesus and the Holy Ghost live. I know They will help me navigate the road maps of my life. But sometimes They feel so far away…so physically far away. No arms to hug me when my heart aches. No voice to sing in the car with me and help me lift my spirits, or visit back with me when I have news to share. Letters are nice. Emails are nice. Even phone calls are nice. But all are distant, non-corporeal responses. No touch of the hand. No smile. No gentle waiting in the eyes, as I stumble from very rustiness to express myself in words that require a tongue and actual vocal chords. Sometimes, everything, everyone feels so far away, that the effort to share a thought, a feeling, is more overwhelming than just keeping it silently inside.

Mortal life is, by its nature, transitory. Loved ones come. Loved ones go. Always, in life, they seem to stay such a little time until they’re gone again.

I look forward to that day when things no longer change. To an eternity of shared mansions, neighboring mansions with those I love. But until that day comes, away they go to follow road maps of their own, leaving me behind, struggling to find the courage to explore a new adventure, the twists and turns in that road map called “my life”.


  1. I read with interest, and feel for your loneliness. I've felt alone in a crowd, especially during those couple of bouts of having my husband's military orders keep him away from me for a year at a time. Loneliness is not nearly as fun, but it is liveable.

    I've probably had more friends who've moved away and lost contact than I have friends surrounding me now. I also think I know more people beneath headstones than inside houses. Sometimes it brings on nostalgia, but not real sadness. I love making new friends. I am ready to go most anywhere, any time. I study road maps and house plans just for the fun of it, I welcome change. I'm an odd ball.

    I've heard that you scheduled people are the stalwarts that keep the world running, and I don't doubt it. You're the doers, the meat and potatoes of a farm dinner, while easily distracted, routine avoiders like me merely provide a bit of spice.

  2. Anna,
    Thanks for your as always kind remarks. I think the world needs both meat and potatoes *and* spice to keep it happily whirling, though! :-)

  3. Bless your heart, Joyce. You conveyed things about being alone that I never even thought of. I've spent so little time alone in the last 44 years--oh lots of time when my husband was working away, but I still had the appendages--and they would hardly let me even go to the bathroom solo without hollering MOM.

    Great posting. Poignant, eloquent, searing.


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