Roads Not Taken

Since I’m an American lit teacher, it’s pretty much de rigueur that I love Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken.”  I don’t know about you, but I have always tended to view two friendly paths, dappled in shade, but mostly sunny.  As described, one is more worn than the other.  I’ve thought about it differently this past weekend.

I found myself saying several times to various people that they are entering a dark forest, and they must keep in mind that, no matter how dark it gets, every step in is a step out, because the only way out is through.  I went to assure them that sunlight lay at the far edge of the forest.  I kept my focus there on the way to Sandy Hook.

Of course, many of their questions were less about what lay ahead than what path to take now.  I could tell them the paths I’d taken, but there were other ones I’d passed up, and you know, “way leading unto way” and all that, I could tell them I wish I’d taken some, but I can’t really know whether those would have gotten me through the wilderness any faster, any easier, with any fewer contusions on my soul.

I wish I’d said yes to meds sooner.  I wish I’d found a better fit in a therapist, rather than giving up and going it alone.  In part because I didn’t go it alone.  I wonder how much more arduous my choices made my husband’s journey.

I wonder who I would have been when I reached the other side if I’d taken those other routes.  Would I have become an author?  Would I have left Columbine in 2002 never to return?  Would I have left at all, even those two years?

I mean, who would I be now, and would I like her as well?  All modesty aside, I very much like who I am now.  Would it really have been better to medicate earlier and take a therapist along with me? It’s so hard to know what to tell people.

I do know that I would spare them the pain of the journey through these woods, but I can’t, and it wouldn’t be my place anyway.  They’ll find their own ways.  They’ll call to one another in the darkness, as we did.  Kiki and I will keep cheering them on, shouting “Keep coming! Keep coming!”

And they’ll make it.  The teachers I met have mettle.  They are hurt, and sad, and angry, and confused, and all the things we were, but I hope we looked like we had half as much grit back when we were six weeks out.

The paths before them are dark and scary, and none are all that well traveled (thank God).  The folks at Sandy Hook, too, will choose.  They will be glad they made some choices and wish they’d made some different ones.  I hope we all stay in touch throughout the journey.  I so want to greet them as they come to the far edge.

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Paula is an author of historical fiction as well as a wife, mom, and teacher.
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5 Responses to Roads Not Taken

  1. Kallie Leyba says:

    Your words ring so true for me Paula. I have told myself for years that I can’t pretend to know what’s best for Kiki (even when I really think I do). Our paths are all so different, but it’s really about where the paths lead. Keep holding the light–and I will do the same.

  2. Sophmom says:

    Beautiful. Having lunch at my desk at work, again moved to tears by you. I’m so glad to have met and known you, Paula. Your words apply to everyone, and everything, even those of us whose *soul contusions* came from different, less obviously traumatic ways. Thank you so much for sharing your hard-earned wisdom.

  3. Irene says:

    I am so proud of you, Paula, for going out of your life to help others who find themselves where you were not so very long ago.
    I’ve always wondered why Frost wrote that poem. Now, I think I know why.

  4. Nancy Duffy says:

    Thank you for your words Paula. I think about you and Kiki often. Although our time together was short, it made a lasting impact on me and gave me a true perspective of the journey, as much as it terrifies me. When it comes to my life, I am such a terrible decision maker to begin with. But I am continuing to search for the “right therapist” because, for sure, I cannot go it alone. Thank you for being a beacon of light for so many of us. Peace and love, Nancy

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