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  • Annmarie Throckmorton, M.A.

Completely alone is hard.

I drove up from Bloomington, Illinois to Chicago this morning, in fog over the highway and mist off the fields. I went Interstate 55 North to Illinois Route 17 toward Kankakee. Sunrise was around 7:00 AM, rising behind the soft gray sky. There was a gentle rain but iffy road conditions, so I gripped the steering wheel tighter than was comfortable. I usually wear a pretty ring when driving to offset the tedium. Today I caught glimpses of the twenty carat deep purple ring which was my sole adornment for my late father’s personal injury court hearing that morning. It showed pale crystal blue in that light, hard and pretty like my paternal grandmother’s eyes. I drove through the hours, between the fields and woodlots of beautiful Illinois. At the junction of Historic Highway 66 and Illinois Route 47, I passed Pete’s Pancakes. Not hungry. On that high stress, heavy load day, I realized how alone in life I am. Completely alone is hard. Hard rain began and obscured my vision.

It slackened. The orange highway construction barrels were out in full force, but they were mute braggarts, all show and road blockage, and not a lick of work being done that I ever saw. But appearances can be deceiving. I drove up and over the Illinois River, over the National Heritage I & M Canal, through to the city of Morris, which is the county seat of Grundy County, Illinois, United States of America, population 13,000+, to I-80-N.

Passing under signs for I-80-N, I-57-N, and I-94-W, cars and trucks were bumper-to-bumper, going twenty miles-per-hour, shuffling from lane-to-lane like slippery cards in who knows whose hands. The concentration of exhaust fumes made me dizzy and sleepy: DANGEROUS. My legs hurt. When I was young I drove across this entire country, approximately 3000 miles, several times, solo, without any pain. After just three and a half hours on this trip, my right foot was numb, on the same leg my father lost when the nursing home neglected him. When I have to drive up to Chicago in December for his next hearing, I will apply patches of pain medication to my knees under my compression support stockings. God and Goodness give me strength.

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