For the last two years we have been on a Hellish ride.
In the fall of 2010, we thought we had a ticket to a sunny destination. We were coasting into the station but then instead of the train stopping at our sunny vacation destination, it picked up speed the following spring and began racing down the tracks. The train made a sharp turn into a dark, suffocating abyss that fall. Each time we tried to open a window to get some fresh air, it was slammed shut on our fingers. The pain excruciating.
At times we just wanted to get off the runaway train. Jumping off to a certain death seemed more promising than staying on the ride through Hell.
The train angled sharply downward last spring. And even more so a few weeks later in the summer. With each angling, the car we were on jerked our bodies, causing us to grip even tighter to what we knew - each other.
We tried to maintain the passenger car experience for our children even though we were really riding in the cattle car for almost a year. J used his skills, talents, and sheer determination to paint beautiful scenery on the windows for our kids.
Once in awhile they would see the darkness. We told them it was night time and held them closer to our chests. I don't think they knew just how dark and deep the abyss on the other side of the glass really was. Children should be able to be children. They shouldn't have to worry about grown up things.
Towards the end of last summer, the train whistle sounded. It felt like the train had begun to slow down a bit. It felt like it was pulling into a station. It did pull in. New people got on. The train started its dark, bumpy ride again. A little smoother this time.
Along the ride, there had been people who rode in the car with us. They helped us to remember what it felt like to have the sunshine beam down on our faces. They gave us a reprieve from the all encompassing fear.
In late fall, we heard that there might be another train station coming around the corner. We really, really, really wanted this to be the station that meant we could finally get off the hellish train ride. But we didn't dare to look ahead. Too many times before, we thought we saw the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. Only for it to be a mirage. A jolt that threw us down an even steeper slope. No, don't look. No, don't hope.
This month, we pulled into the station. We haven't gotten off the train yet. There's a lot of our baggage on the train. The station is underground. It's going to take a bit to get back up to the surface.
We feel safer at this station than we have anywhere else for over two years. Maybe by the time summer comes, we will be back above ground where we can feel the sun shine on us once again.
Maybe. Just maybe. This time. Maybe this time.