Crossing Bridges

My cousin got married yesterday.  He was married in the town where I grew up, although he and his lovely bride didn’t grow up or live anywhere near there.

They chose the location for it’s gorgeous views of mountains and the river valley.

My hometown is situated on the banks of the largest river in New York state, though you wouldn’t know it growing up there.

Then, we didn’t dare go down to the river. It was home to small industrial companies and old local bars.  We were told to stay away as it was considered the wrong side of town.

The river for us, was simply something we crossed to get anywhere east of our home and back again.

It had been many years since leaving this little town.  Once I moved away for college, I rarely lived there again.  In the ensuing years my mom would die in our house, in front of me, and after that I would visit my dad only when necessary and with an air of business, coming and going very quickly.  In and out, with blinders on.  When he moved out about seven years ago, I left childhood memories languishing in that little town by the river.

What is it they say about the healing powers of time?

Does a repeated action entrench itself in a person after decades of doing it? Because crossing my favorite small bridge yesterday on the way to the wedding, still felt like going home.

There was something physical about it.  It felt just as it did all those times growing up. Returning home after a day away, or when I was older driving home after a night out with my good friend who lived directly across the river.

Memories bubbled up wherever I looked.

My friend, Joan, lived up that road.  She used to work in that deli.  Amazing, it’s still here.

We drove past my best friend’s house.  I think her parents might still live there.

That street, Adams Drive?  My big, 8th grade crush lived there with his twin brother.

Where’s the pharmacy building on Main Street?  Nothing left but an empty lot.

Our old dentist.  I can still picture his dark, tiny waiting room.  Doing the search puzzles in the outdated issues of Highlights magazine, trying to ignore the piercing sound of drills, while waiting with my mom and brothers after school.

We pass my old street, but continue on without stopping.

It seems melancholy now, writing about it, but it wasn’t, really.  It was nice to be there, to remember that time in my life.  I was happy to recall those days.  I wonder if my children will look back on their childhood, these days, and feel the same.

For me, it seems very long ago and I know that it was.

Buildings are gone.  People are gone.

I’m here.  In the place responsible for my foundation.

The wedding was beautiful.  It was sweet watching the tender dance between mother and groom.  Her baby boy, now a married man.

My husband whispers, one day that will be me.  Slow dancing with one of our sons, taller than me by then.

He says it with such conviction, without a doubt.  He counts on it being a sure thing, but cancer seeps into my good mood, casting shadows on that future.  I brush the dark thoughts away, as I would a gnat hovering by my ear.  But, like the bug, thoughts of recurrence relentlessly buzz back.  I keep swatting, pushing them away, refusing to let them land.

I try to remember that a future isn’t guaranteed for anyone in this room, cancer or not.  I am no different.

We all dream of a future.  Everyone, the bride and groom, their parents, their guests and me, the one who just drove through a small town, remembering what it was like to be young.

When the future was wide open.  When it wasn’t something to fear, but something to be cherished.  When it was something to raise a glass for and toast, right along with the past that brought us to this moment.

And that’s what I did.

16 thoughts on “Crossing Bridges

  1. A beautiful post, Bug, that does indeed feel melancholy, as tho you were writing a eulogy for a place left behind. Poignant, sad, but lovely. Now is not always so much about cherishing the future but what it is we hold at this moment. Right now:)Jodyjms


  2. What a wonderful rush of sentimentality I experienced reading this great post Stacey. And hubs is right–one day you will be dancing sweet dances with your little boys, all grown up into wonderful men!


  3. Beautiful !!! Thank you leading me to read this, Wendy. I can identify with so much here. \”Buildings are gone. People are gone. I'm here.\” So much change, yet SOME things remain the same — your friend's parents still live there. Remembering anecdotal things, but not going too deep (passing by your street)…. Now, new memories are being made for you there. AND the river is a thing of beauty!


  4. This blog is about many things, but what stands out in my mind is that it is about a dance. And I know you have already remembered something else about a dance, but it is not in this blog entry. Perhaps a copy of this entry will be saved in someone's wallet, to be taken out and shown to you on that future day, the day that you dance with whichever of your sons first finds their match, proving the wisdom and vision of the man you married, and you'll recall the day you married him, and that on that day the wisdom and vision of another man in your life was proven, when he took out of his wallet a note written so long before by a young girl, a note with a promise she made to him on the condition that his vision for her future be proved true, that she would someday find for herself a perfect match, and that she would on her own wedding day reserve for the dearly missed grandfather of Saturday's groom, a dance. Stacey, you'll have to finish this because I cannot recall on what occasion Uncle Paul's wisdom was passed along to you, the day you wrote the note – but I suspect it was a lot like Saturday, with many of the same people in attendance.


  5. Home. There's no word like it other than \”love.\” Both are intertwined and have such strong pulls. How wise and sweet of your husband to encourage your thoughts to live in the possibilities of the future. Yes, none of us know what lies ahead of us, but this time to come is full of promise and good health for you.Brenda


  6. Stacey, I thought I left a comment last night… hmm. my mind these days! This is a lovely post. There is nothing like going home. The memories just bubble up don't they? This so reminds me of the uninvited guest post I wrote. Cancer is always there lurking around, but we keep on living and loving anyway! Great post!


  7. Stacey,I love this posting! It's written so beautifully and eloquently. I totally get it: the nostalgia (good or not) and the cancer always there in mind and/or body and/or spirit. And despite the cancer experience, we have no choice but to go on and live and love life.I remember the Bronx, NY, where I come from, and I never want to go back. Painful memories of a time when I somehow innocently believed that if I took care of myself, I'd never get seriously ill. Cancer is with me; it's a part of me. But I, like you, am thriving.


  8. A moving, poignant post, my friend. So many layers, so much I can relate to. It's amazing how memory can inhabit our cells — ironic, too, after we experience how cancer inhabits them as well. I think we would all prefer only the memories. Hugs to you, Stace.


  9. I just love this post – such a mix of emotions, which you have shared in wonderful detail. What a warm fuzzy feeling I get reading this.Big hugsPhilippa 🙂


  10. Stacey, this post gave me chills. Just beautiful. And you WILL be there.(on another note entirely, on vacation I discovered the EZpass. What a fabulous invention that was).Hugs,Katie


  11. Stacey, I love how you described this wonderful journey to your home town. I went to mine for a cousins' reunion and high school reunion (in upstate New York) last September. Some of the cousins I hadn't seen in years. I took in the old familiar sites as we walked the Erie Canal. Your post took me right back there. Thank you!Jan


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s