The End of the Road

My neighborhood is at the beginning of a long road, one named for the famous explorer who “discovered” California. As if it hadn’t been here the whole time.

My husband’s car has been unreliable in the last few months. It’s been to the repair shop a few times. The long faithful automobile is 14 years old (in fact it was constructed the year Darcy and I met) and Darcy had been postponing the inevitable for quite a while. (Mostly because of the plumbing and repairs to our basement that need to be done.) But he finally had to give in and purchase a new vehicle this weekend.

We decided to take it out for a spin with the kids. He drove along our long road for many familiar, happy miles until we reached a sunny seaside town that I love, where we ate oysters gathered a mile away.

Full and happy, we decided to do something rather foolish. We decided to follow the road until the very end, where the land meets the sea and a lighthouse marks the divide. Neither of us, even though we are locals, could remember visiting this landmark.

We set out for our journey amidst the bright sunshine. “Where are we going?” my daughter asked. “To visit a lighthouse,” I replied. “There’s a lot of fog where lighthouses are,” proclaimed Cassandra.

Almost immediately after her prediction, we winded up the two-lane byway and ran straight into some wisps of cloud which became a regular bank of that heavy, migraine-producing white pea soup the Northern Pacific Ocean is renowned for creating. We also noticed a steady stream of cars headed back, ominously, towards the sunshine.

“Should we go on?” Darcy asked. We both tend to get headaches from heavy fog.

“Yes,” I replied steadily. I wanted to reach the end. I wanted to show the children that lighthouse.

Google maps did not indicate just how many hairpin turns and winding sections our road produced. Our road! The one which was so orderly and well-traveled near us had become wild and unpredictable, with cattle grates and cars passing slower vehicles. It took 25 long minutes to go but a few miles. Finally, we reached an area of thick traffic, thicker fog, and cars parking along the side of the street. One car was leaving.

“Let’s park there!” I exclaimed.

We did. And we joined throngs of families and couples and tourists, hastily wrapping themselves in cardigans and sweatshirts, bracing themselves against the wind.

“I want to go back!” cried my daughter. “I’m cold!”

Darcy stopped a young couple heading back, towards us. I thought maybe they were honeymooners.

“How far to the lighthouse?” he questioned.

“40 minutes, at least,” explained the man.

“What?” I started. “How?!”

“You have to walk 15 more minutes,” the woman said. “Then you have to wait in the line for the tour. There are so many people waiting for the tour that you can’t get past them. You can’t even see the lighthouse, it’s so foggy.”

Well, we went back. We weren’t ready or prepared to wait in line. Our clothes were too thin. Our energy was too low. Our heads had already begun to ache.

“I want to see the lighthouse!” my son cried.

“Another time,” I said. Another time.

So we went home and I harvested some chard from our garden and cooked it.

After dinner, I read this extraordinary post about Luna’s blog, from Sam, a young woman. Luna is parenting after infertility and loss, and the woman notes:

“I started reading (Luna’s) story at the point she got pregnant with her second daughter. I read through her pregnancy up to current posts. Then I went back to her very first post (4ish years ago I believe?) and have been reading from there forward. It’s been actually really cool for me in a weird way. Since I know how the story ends, since I know what’s next, sometimes I find myself smiling when she talks about the pain of thinking she’ll never be pregnant again. Or the uncertainty of the adoption process, if it will work, if they’ll have a baby, if it will be a good relationship. I smile because I know how it ends. I can see 2 years down the road. I smile because I just want to say: it’s right there. Just hang on.”

Would you want to see to the end of the road? Not just your journey through infertility, but to the end of your story? Why or why not?



Filed under Parenting After IF, What Say You?

20 responses to “The End of the Road

  1. ok, the reason you’ve never been to the lighthouse is because it is ALWAYS fogged in. never fails. and you’re right, that is one LONG road. it’s a good example of when the journey is more important than the destination.

    I truly loved that post. it’s not every day that someone combs through 4 yrs of archives to read your story, or starts in the middle then goes back to the beginning from the perspective of the end. as I wrote to sam, the uncertainty of those dark days were so hard, the not knowing if/when/how it would ever end. I don’t always want to know how everything ends, but knowing there was a light at the end of the dark tunnel might have helped guide me through the worst of it. (btw the link to her post is here:

  2. Me too, loved this post, I got that feeling you get when you think of some place normal and everyday that you haven’t yet gone to explore. Yet what you’re referring to . . I like that you got someone describe that end of the road/lighthouse, and you were able to make that choice of whether you wanted to wait in the cold, or whether you were better off going home (and picking some chard – don’t know why but that line tickled me!)

    Ok so would I like to know the end of the road? Such a loaded question, with so many grey areas. In terms of ttc/family-building (because thats so current and real right now) yes I would, definitely. I would like to know if we get our preferred outcome, in which I can suck up the next however-long knowing that it will all come right. Or if we don’t, so I can stop pouring energy and stress into something that aint gonna happen, instead, starting to deal with it and move on. But what if by finding that out, I also find out something I don’t want to know, like Mr Stinky and I stop being together, or I end up in a car crash paralysed from the neck down or we have to move somewhere soul-less where we hate our home (or all three?) .
    Its that crystal ball question – if you could peer into one, would you? I stopped all that psychic guff a while back since I couldn’t be sure of who was feeding me horsefaeces, and from this fragile deadembryofailedivf perspective I didn’t want to be in the position of trying to determine whether I was being told my ‘future’ or just what they thought I wanted to hear.

    I think what I’m saying, in a roundabout way, is whether I would believe the ‘reported’ end of the road (especially coming from a third party), and whether the perceived end of the road is set in stone or whether we have the potential to change what is ‘destined’?

  3. Sam

    Thank you for the sweet mention of my post. Seriously, for someone to describe something I wrote as extraordinary.. Wow. I have no words.

    As far as would I want to see the end of the road as it relates to infertility? Not necessarily. I’m not concerned with precise details. But if someone could tell me, much like the man told you, “it’s 40 more minutes…”, or “you WILL get pregnant (even if you’re 42 and think you’re going through menopause like Luna!)” or “you’re just not going to have kids” – that I would ask for. I could then wholeheartedly live in that path, wrap my head around it and move on. I spend too much time right now dwelling on the endless possibilities on both sides. Am I just not going to be a mother? Do we need to pursue adoption as a means to build our family? Am I pregnant right now and I don’t even know it? Endless questions. And yes, I definitely wish I could have even a vague answer. It will happen. 40 more minutes. It’s right there. Hang on.

  4. Really interesting to think about. My first thought is of course I would have wanted to know in regards to infertility – it would have made those years of uncertainty more bearable but maybe knowing would have changed our story. We have our story because of the specific decisions we made based on the information we had available to us at the time. If we knew the final outcome, would we have made different decisions and would those decisions have led to a different story or a different baby? I don’t know. I know that if that knowledge had been dangled in front of me when we were TTC I would have grabbed it but I don’t know if that would have been wise.

    As far as seeing to the end of my story – the end of my life – no way. I don’t think I could possibly live my life as fully if I always knew how the story would go. In smaller doses I would be tempted to know things like where we will end up living and working next and how much time we have left with people we love but I think the not knowing makes us alive, makes us keep striving towards something and knowing would be giving that up. If I saw a decent end to a good life I might get lazy in the safety of that and not use my life, if I saw a terrible early end or an unimaginable loss that I am unable to recover from, I would live in fear of that day that I know is coming. Either way I wouldn’t be truly alive.

  5. I’m glad you made the right decision to turn back -some things are not worth it.
    I think it might have helped for me to know I was going to get my baby, but I certainly had to take action to get there. And I agree with Mud Hut Mama- not knowing makes us more alive. And open to possibilities.
    I have a feeling that ttc#2 is going to be easier now that my endo and thyroid problems have been dealt with, but on the other hand, I just don’t know. And that’s OK.

  6. So great (and chard? with olive oil and pepper flakes, yes please!) The one thing I always said while we were ttc was that if I just knew that the journey would end with me with a healthy child in my arms at the end, I wouldn’t have minded the wait. What killed me about ttc was not knowing how the journey would end. Now that it’s over and I have more than I could have ever hoped for, it’s easy for me to look back and appreciate the long road here a little more, the surprises of getting pregnant, finding out it was twins, etc. But in that slice of time, if I could have known, I’d have paid top dollar to be able to see into the future so I could stop torturing myself with the “How longs” and the “What ifs”. Great post!

  7. Yes. I would love the reassurance that if I just keep working, just keep moving forward I will get a job that I love and I will have a baby. Right now it feels as if neither will ever happen.

  8. I think perspective definitely plays into answering this question. If you had asked me this two years ago, I think there is a strong possibility that I would have jumped at the chance to know how my IF journey would turn out. Perhaps I would have been able to better handle the anxiety that accompanied my pregnancies if I had known that ultimately would be ok.

    BUT… from this side of things, if I was given the opportunity to go back, knowing what I know now, I don’t think I would. We are shaped by our life experiences, and I wouldn’t be who I am if I didn’t go through those hard times. It’s kind of like reading the last page of a novel before you start the book (my sister does this all the time and I just don’t get it!).

  9. This is such a beautiful post. 🙂

    I don’t want to know the end. Because then I think you’re always living towards it, instead of being open to the twists and turns that will take you somewhere else entirely. Sort of like teaching to the test, which we hate about public schools.

    But I do wish that along the way there were more people who could believably reassure me that I’m where I need to be. Not that it will all work out OK, because they will never know that, but that I’m safe, and loved, and that someone is holding my hand as I walk forward. That’s the hardest part, I think … not the not-knowing, but the feeling alone on the journey.

  10. Gorgeous metaphor. I think Justine puts it so well, and my feelings are similar.

    I think back in the day I may have opted to know the end of the story. But then I see that knowing would change the end of the story. And the older I get the more I understand that it’s more about the road than about the lighthouse.

  11. Mel

    Not only would I not want to see the end of the road, but I wouldn’t want it offered to me because if I knew the information was there for the taking, I would most likely take it. I just can’t walk away from knowing things. But I know how I respond to finding out spoilers for a television show; even if the storyline is going to get really good and the news makes me initially happy. It affects how I watch the show. Now take a television spoiler and magnify that 1000 times and we have something more akin to having a spoiler for your life. Even if it was what I considered a happy ending, I don’t think I’d be happy knowing it.

  12. Knowing the outcome of our IF struggles would have most definitely made the road easier, but not as appreciated as it is today. I truly think I view my son as more of a treasure because of the struggle we went through to get him. Knowing the outcome ahead of time would not have made that journey as meaningful as it was.

  13. Beautiful written. I understand why you went back, the lighthouse will still be there, when the timing is better and you all have more energy.
    I often say that if I only knew we would have a healthy child in the end, the road towards it would be more bearable. Or the other way around, if it won’t happen it would be much better knowing and be done, dealing with it and start healing. The unknown is the worst for me.

  14. theyellowblanket

    Sometimes when I’m feeling particularly impatient I would like to peek into the future, but that would be a spoiler! This was such a beautifully written post, as are all of your posts! I nominated you for the One Lovely Blog Award:

  15. As someone who can find herself paralyzed by the uncertainty of life, I’ve thought about this a lot. I think in the end I wouldn’t want to know the end of my story, at least not the story of my life, because the only positive of that would be to live my life to the fullest and to better appreciate each day. And I can do that without knowing how or when it ends. But knowing how it ends might make me angry or bitter or scared and I wouldn’t want that. It’s not worth it.

    As for my fertility journey that feels different because knowing how it ends would change the way I act in the now, probably for the better. If I knew it would be two or three years and a certain amount of loses I’d be able to carry on with my life until then and prepare myself for what was coming. But maybe that would be bad too. I honestly don’t know. I guess ultimately I’m glad I don’t have the choice because I’d probably make the wrong one. 😉

  16. I don’t want to know details, but I do want to know we are going to be ok. That Grayson is going to live through childhood, that our marriage will make it. This was a beautiful post- I love how you tied it all together.

  17. SRB

    I had a dream about you last night – that you were paddling in a canoe, on a very long trip as part of a documentary about the IF journey. So clearly, I was still thinking about this post.

    I would want to know. I would want to know the outcome of *that* journey, but not my whole life story. If I could go back in time, and know that I would find love again, and we would have a family it would have made those moments of despair… I don’t know. Not less painful, not less meaningful, just…less. I wouldn’t have been so shattered had I known somehow, what the answer would be. Maybe not when I would have children, or how many, or even HOW I would have them… just “yes” or “no”. I could have kept going either way without falling down so fucking hard.

  18. I really, really love this post. Part of me says I would love to know the end of my IF journey from day one but part of me says that would take away from the final wonder of the journey. I definitely wouldn’t want to know the end of my complete journey through life.

  19. What an interesting post. I love that your tried to get to the end of the road, but also knew when it was the right time to stop. That really speaks to where I am at in my journey with family building right now.

    As for the answers to your questions, I echo what Mud Hut Mama and Justine said, but especially this part of MHM’s comment:

    “My first thought is of course I would have wanted to know in regards to infertility – it would have made those years of uncertainty more bearable but maybe knowing would have changed our story. We have our story because of the specific decisions we made based on the information we had available to us at the time. If we knew the final outcome, would we have made different decisions and would those decisions have led to a different story or a different baby? I don’t know. I know that if that knowledge had been dangled in front of me when we were TTC I would have grabbed it but I don’t know if that would have been wise.”

    That pretty much sums up what I think and how I feel.

    I often think if it weren’t for Molly, we might not have Abby and that is mind blowing to consider. I sometimes wish I could have known that Abby would come into our life six years later, as then the interim could have been about many others things than being so focused on wanting more (children). But I also get that we learn and grow so much through our journeys and I wonder at times who I would be today without my path to parenthood playing out exactly that way it did. Hmmm… Definitely a lot to chew on. I know I am late to this discussion, but glad I got to finally join in. Thank you for another thought provoking post with an equally awesome discussion in the comment section here. Write on my friend.

    Also, I am curious to know if, when and under what circumstances you with or without your family will make it to see that lighthouse.

    Finally, I almost forgot, I think I am also in the camp that wouldn’t want to know when the end of my life will be. But that said, people so often say if we knew we would live our lives differently/more genuinely/priorities straight/etc. and so there is that, if I knew it was going to be sooner, rather than later, I might focus my time and energy differently. I get that begs the question, why am I not doing that now… But obviously it isn’t realistic in day to day life when are healthy, for the most part.

    Okay, one more thing, I wrote this post four years ago and included the lyrics to a song that I love called “It’s the End of the Road” by Matt Goss and thought you might like to check it out:

  20. I love metaphors and this is a beauty. My journey has taken me on some difficult roads lately. I’m not interested in knowing how it ends, only in knowing that it will continue.

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