Driving Lessons

So this is a short story I wrote a couple years ago and I decided it was about time I shared it.

Hopefully you enjoy it!!!

 

Driving Lessons

For the past ten years I have lived in the small town of Chesterton. With a little over 1,000 residents it’s the kind of small town you see in movies but never see in real life. It was picture perfect, the main street was filled with beautiful shops owned by people in the town. Instead of a giant chain grocery store there was a small market that had everything you could need. When you moved here you really become a part of the town, everyone knows your name and would say hello when they saw you or wave when you passed each other on the road. It really was the most ideal place to live.

My family and I moved here after the loss of our son. He died in a car accident while we were living in Chicago. My wife had taken him out for a driving lesson. She had given him the all clear to turn when out of nowhere a semi smashed into the car killing Luke instantly. I never blamed her for it, despite how much she blamed herself. After a few months of silence, a few months of fighting, a few months of nightmares, a few months of crying, a few months of wanting to die ourselves. I decided it was time to pack us up and get out of Chicago, to go somewhere where we could start our lives over and try to become a family again.

When I came to Chesterton the first time to look at the house I knew this would be the place for us to start again. It hard everything we would need. Friendly people, great school system and a place to heal. Convincing Beth to leave was harder than I had thought, she wasn’t keen on the idea of leaving Chicago. Leaving behind the place we had built memories with the son we had lost. But in the end she believed that the house and the city would bring more bad memories than good and I assured her that we would keep memories of Luke alive ourselves. Staying there would have been a constant reminder. Its hard to do little things like grocery shopping in a store that your frequented with your child.

So Beth and I started packing the house. I took care of packing up Luke’s room saving everything that meant something in order to help us remember him. Beth didn’t say much during the packing process, she was determined to just get it over with, weeping non stop as she packed up our old life. This was very hard on Emily, our daughter; she couldn’t understand how much Beth was affected by what had happened. The loss she was feeling and all the terrible thoughts and wishing that it would have been her instead.

The week leading up to our move we said goodbye to our friends and family and gave them an open invitation to come visit us anytime they wanted. It was difficult but it was necessary. The day we left was the hardest for her. I think it was the moment that she realized that it wasn’t a dream, that she wasn’t going to wake up and find him. That Luke was really dead and we would never see him again. Emily sat in the front with me, while Beth lay in the backseat in the fetal position.

Backing out of the driveway was an awful combination of weird and painful. Knowing that we would never return to the house where we brought our newborn son home for the first time, where he learned to walk and talk, the place that was his home for the short life he had. She didn’t speak the entire eight hour drive, she just lay there. Part of me wishes we could have stayed in Chicago but I know it would have killed her to be reminded of him everywhere she went. I couldn’t lose her, so I moved her. She had refused any kind of therapy so really it was the only option I had. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think there was anything wrong with my wife. She just needed to be able to open up about what she was feeling and she wasn’t opening up to me.

I wasn’t going to be able to help her in Chicago it just seemed like fresh air and quiet would do her good, because in all reality I couldn’t lose her too. Neither could Emily, she needed her mom back.

When we got to the new house it was nighttime so we unpacked what we could before exhaustion got the best of us. Within a week Emily had fully assimilated into her new life. She became quick friends with the girl next door and loved her new school. Thank god she was young, I can’t imagine how much harder it would have been had she fully understood everything that was going on. Several nights she would wake up crying. She would cry for Luke to come back, she knew he was gone but it was hard for her to fully understand why.

At the time of Luke’s death Beth and I decided it would be best for me to tell her what had happened. Emily knew that Luke was hurt but she didn’t know that he wouldn’t be coming back from the hospital. I sat her down and explained what had happened in the car and that Luke was in a better place. I broke my little girl’s heart that day and I hated myself for letting my son die and for having to tell her that her big brother, her hero, was in heaven.

After about a week in the new house Beth began to talk again. It started as I was about to read Emily a story before bed. She asked if her mom would read to her and just as I was about to tell her mommy couldn’t, Beth appeared at the door and said she would do it. As I watched from the doorway I began to tear up. That was the moment I realized things would be ok, that we could get better, that we could heal.

Shortly after, Beth and I opened a small cozy book shop with a small coffee bar. We did so because I believe whole heartedly that that little children’s book saved us. We were once again a family and all I could think about was how nice it was to be happy.

About two years after the move Beth woke me up in the middle of the night. She began to tell me how Luke had come to her in her sleep. How he apologized for the pain we felt and how much he missed and loved us. He told her it was time to try and have another baby, which had honestly never crossed my mind. Then he told her he wanted to be here with us and that we needed to move his body. I told her that night that no matter the cost we would move him out here to be with us but we would have to discuss the idea of another child after I had some time to think about it.

We never got to discuss it because two days later she told me she was pregnant. I’m still not sure if Luke really came to her or if her body was just telling her it was ok to have another child. Nine months later we welcomed our little boy. We decided to name him Chance, because he was our second chance at life. Physically we were a family of four, but mentally and emotionally we were five strong.

Years went by and when it was time for Emily to learn how to drive I was shocked when Beth said she wanted to take her out for the first lesson. I was worried but I had more faith in her than anyone could ever imagine. Years later Emily would tell me that when they got in the car Beth buckled her seatbelt and began to sob. She told Emily that she had made mistakes with Luke and she swore she would never make them again. She apologized for not being there for her when she needed her mom most. Then she told Emily everything that she loved about her and that even though her heart had been broken when Luke died, that she had never stopped loving Emily, not even for a second. This was the only driving lesson she gave to Emily. When it was Chances’ turn she took him out the first day and told him all about his brother, something we had not really gone into detail about with Chance. She discussed her mistakes and about her love for him. She told him that even though he had never met his brother that he should remember him everyday because he was a part of them forever.

Shortly after this Beth would pen a novel about everything that had happened, which she titled ‘Driving Lessons.’ It became a best seller and helped other people dealing with the loss of a child. The kids would go off to college, both always coming back for their breaks because they missed the quiet life. When both kids settled down here in Chesterton and started their own families we couldn’t have been happier. We expanded the bookstore with the kids and even opened up our own antique shop as well, as a family. Beth and I spent the next forty years together. Beth left this world in her sleep on a Tuesday. Two and a half years later I joined her and Luke, the son we lost but never forgot.

 

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