Please excuse my boo-hooing. This is going to be a very sentimental post.
I’m already crying and I haven’t even started writing yet. I’m a mess.
|When my father in law e-mailed this photo, he had appropriately named it “looking west”.
Maybe I should also get him to send me the other side entitled “looking east”
as I am sure there will always be a part of me that will do both.
In 2003, LG and I, with our three little daughters crossed over this bridge for the first time as a family. The girls were so young: 4,2, and newborn. We had come across the country for law-school and Grandma Gold’s empty house was a perfect place for us to crash while we house hunted (an hour and a half away) in Knoxville. It was two doors down from my in-laws, which is about a mile beyond this bridge. We didn’t know it at the time, but we started a tradition. It had been a long trip, where we learned all sorts of car sanity games. We challenged Abigail to a Tennessee Bridge off. She must suck in all the air support she could and holler “Tennessee Bridge” as we drove over. She should not stop hollering until we safely reached the side closer to grammy’s house.
Well, here we are, almost eight years later. LG’s employment is going to drag us back to where we came from. We can’t complain. It’s a great job. We love Utah and we know it’s what God wants us to do, but it is very emotional…especially for a big sap like me.
My mother in law just posted a picture of the bridge on facebook and said they are closing it down. They have built a bigger and better bridge off to the other side. All I can do is cry. And reminisce. And scream, “Nothing can be bigger or better.”
So many trips and holler contests are flying through my brain. Abigail is 4, then 5 then 11, ever increasing in volume and intensity. Sophia was 2 and couldn’t quite pronounce the words, but still hollered right along with her sister and now she quite possible has some of the best breathe control. Bella was probably just crying that first trip across, but her volume was likely as loud as it is today, even though the words now come out loud and clear: TENNESSEEEEE BRRRIIIIIIIDDDDDDGGGGE.
Sometimes the girls were in soccer uniforms or church dresses. Sometimes the car was loaded down with winter gear and Christmas presents. Or food that we didn’t want to go bad in our fridge at home. Sometimes we had a cat with us and a dog. But never both the cat or the dog. Thank goodness. Sometimes they were in bathing suits and we may have even had the occasional birthday suit in there. I can smell the homemade loaves of bread that Faye sent home with us and the Thanksgiving leftovers. I am blinded by the black of most of the nights when we were headed back home while I calculated which caffeinated soda I would purchase at the corner gas station just beyond the bridge. The kids would already be falling asleep and wouldn’t even notice the bridge.
LG and I got really good at driving across that bridge super slow while the kids’ faces turned bright red and finally gave in to the need for oxygen. A parent has to do what they have to do for the occasional win. We would have to remind ourselves not to slow down if it was at night and the girls weren’t paying attention. The girls have now turned their attention to teaching baby Caroline the tradition.
I am not sure how many times LG told me of his trips to the little market close to the bridge while we drove by. “I always got my gas there when I was a teenager.” “Dad and I used to stop there for worms when we would go fishing.” “We used to drive our bikes down here when we were kids”, to which I would reply, “Are you kidding me? This highway is frightening.” The response would always follow, “Yeah Alice, I’ve told you a million times, we would take the back-roads; they are so much safer.” I would laugh inside because I don’t think that there are really any safe back-roads in the whole state of Tennessee; I have personally puked while trying them out in the car. That’s when I started driving everywhere so I could avoid car sickness.
But back to the bridge. They are tearing it down. They are tearing down a piece of our family. And I can’t stop crying, but I guess it is kind of fitting since we have to move forward. We can’t stay here forever.But even if we aren’t going to be Tennessee residents and even if we aren’t going to get to visit grammy and papa as often, we now know that at least a piece of each of our hearts will forever be floating down the great Holston River. I think I can hear it as it faintly rolls along to the tune of Tenneeesssssseeeee Briiiddddgee.
wah wah wah.