Riding Shotgun


Riding Shotgun :: 2011

I was driving east somewhere in North Dakota the day after Christmas. It was dark and cold, the road was snow packed and I was in a near blizzard when my ex-sister-in-law called. I'd just finished an outburst of talking to myself. I said hello and asked if she would hold on for just a minute. I muted my phone, trembled a little and then gathered myself. I couldn't believe it was her of all people. I got back on and she asked me how I was, where I was and said that she'd been wanting to call me since my mothers funeral two months earlier. Her call felt a little like divine intervention. We caught up some, she listened to my grief, gave me sage advice, but mostly just listened which was exactly what I needed at that precise instant.

I was driving back from Montana after spending a couple of days during the holidays with a few members of my family while my wife and daughter were in Florida to be with her mom and brother. I drove to Missoula and purposely avoided my hometown, specifically my mom and dad's house. I knew it would feel like a crypt. It would be uncomfortable and still, like a funeral home filled with flowers that my mom wouldn't have liked. Maybe certain music playing that had no real connection to her. The music being more about the people who chose it than it being for my mom—like some Scottish dirge. She wasn't even Scottish. It might feel like that, so I drove to Missoula instead where most of my siblings lived. We went out to dinner and I visited a few nephews and nieces the following day before heading home. The drive was therapy. The drive is always therapy. Seeing family was good, but the drive is what began to heal me—it’s the mulling, the thinking through of things, the re-mulling, the talking out loud, the looking and the picture taking that centers me—breaking things down and lining them back up. Maybe a little like the Cat Stevens song On the Road to Find Out. After my my sister-in-law and I said goodbye, I drove out of the abrupt edge of the storm where the road was dry and I took the photograph Riding Shotgun, with my mom sitting next to me.

© C. Davidson