We’re All Just Trying to Go Home

The Beach Boy’s “Let’s Me Go Home,” Clapton’s “Blind Faith,” Denver’s “Take Me Home Country Roads,” and countless other ballads sing about going home. These rock songs keenly capture the sense of longing through their message, while many other Gospel songs on the same topic refer entirely to death. I think anytime I feel like I am in a rut or even just having a bad day I get this sense of wanting to go back in time, to revert to a place that gives me more comfort than the the world, the environment I call my home today.

Some of the places we long for aren’t places. Some of them are times, and some of them never even existed. Will a spurned child ever have a mother who loves them? Probably not, but they still hope for one, and spend their whole lives wondering why she hated them; why they were never good enough. They will spend their whole life trying to find the gift of unconditional love; a package that never arrived. They bumble, and tumble and fail and fall until one day, if they are lucky, they might realize that the unconditional love they seek must come from within and can’t be gotten from another person. Not exactly what they wanted. It doesn’t replace the love they missed out on from their mother. No one ever gets over something like that.

The child moves on, grows up, and leaves, looking for a place where they will finally be accepted; a place that’s not always easy to find but is a place that sometimes you happen to stumble upon, for a moment, a vacation, or even a lifetime. Home is sometimes found during a visit to a new place, this sense of peace, as if you’ve arrived at last, you’ve been reunited with an old friend after years of distance. Eventually, you have to go home, for real this time, but you will always cherish the memory of this special place that felt like home, though you’d never been there before.

Everyone knows you can never go home again. It is a curse we human’s share. It is a defect; a hole in our collective hearts. Maybe we were born with it. Maybe the Gospel songs have defined it properly,

“Swing low, sweet chariot,

Coming forth to carry me home,

Swing low, sweet chariot,

Coming forth to carry me home,

I looked over Jordan and what did I see,

Coming forth to carry me home,

A band of angels coming after me,

Coming forth to carry me home.”

Is the afterlife the “home” we’ve been longing to return to? Is that why, as living, breathing, physical beings we’ve never been able to get there? And sometimes the home we long for isn’t a place, a time, a memory, but a person. A person we loved, a person who loved us, a mother, a lover, a friend, or a brother; a someone who represents all the things we miss, all the things we think we lost, both in ourselves and in our lives forever. We don’t ever really get home, but we never really lose anything either. Both illusions in time. Together we commiserate and help each other keep it together, while each day, as new things come even more things seem to slip away, and others leave our lives forever. And sometimes we really do die. Sometimes the physical bodies stop living and the people we loved the most really do leave this planet for what seems like forever to the ones who are left behind.

The rest of us, wait in line, bumbling, and slowly floating towards the end of the finish line like ducks in those rubber duck races they sometimes do for charity. Sometimes one of them unexpectedly pushes forward and finishes early. Again, the rest of us plastic ducks bumble and bobble, shocked by what happened, frightened, like chickens after a coyote unexpectedly sneaks into the coop one night and gets one of their own.

Time passes, wounds heal. We will move on but never forget our dear friends, and secretly hope that maybe the finish line doesn’t really exist and maybe we will be the one who doesn’t ever get there, the immortal mortal. But one day, perhaps on a day that we’d least expect, a day much like every other day, when the Earth spins on it’s axis, from light to dark or dark to light, all the wrongs will be righted, we’ll finally feel a mother’s love, the touch of the one we miss, a kiss, a hug, or maybe just a smile, a sense of complete peace and belonging, that can never be taken away from us.

Atrial septa defect, ASD, is a birth defect that effects the blood flow from the left to right atria of a child’s heart. This problem occurs because within the defected heart exists a hole. ASD is not always fatal and is often remedied through open heart surgery. During this operation, the surgeon sculpts a patch, often made of the patient’s own tissue, and uses it to permanently seal and remedy the hole. I know that one day, the hole in our heart will be filled with the joy and laughter our physical home hasn’t always been able to provide, and that when it is filled with all those beautiful and wonderful things, it will be sealed with a patch made of the home we’ve been trying to get to all this time.

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