In the long list of “first withouts” since Mina died seven weeks ago comes my first road trip without her.

It was a disaster.

There’s no point in going into details except to say that traveling with Mina came with a well-ordered routine. Much like my still-disrupted and disorganized daily routine, our road trip routine is in shambles. I forgot stuff, I didn’t pack the car worth a damn, I left a half hour later than usual, I forgot to bring along the maps.

Add to my disorganization the bad weather at the start of the trip and the insane amount of traffic going south, and you have a completely miserable road trip. I never made it to Atlanta because my friends are sick with flu and bronchitis, and traffic volume and accidents made it impossible to get to my hometown until the next morning. Mina and I made that trip several times in about 15 hours, including frequent stops to stretch Mina’s long legs, but Saturday started off on the wrong foot and it was downhill from there.

I missed her so much on the way down here. Just like I talked to her all the time when we were at home, I talked to Mina a lot on our road trips together. Mina kept me honest as far as my speed and stopping every couple of hours to take a break. I ended up Saturday night with tight muscles, eyes so strained that they turned bright red and painful, and a lonely overnight stay in a hotel.

One thing I did get right was bringing along Mina’s shrine. In the spare bedroom here at my Dad’s house I’ve set up Mina’s urn, the heart-shaped box with her hair inside, and one of the two photos of us that I’ve had in a frame for years. It comforts me to have those phyiscal remains of Mina with me, because I dearly miss seeing her laying under the AC vents and taking her for our long morning walks in the neighborhood. When I walk around town now I’m careful not to follow the same routes that Mina and walked together, because it’s too painful to walk those routes alone.

Mina's table shrine

The coffee table shrine to Mina - photo, urn, and box with her hair inside

Life moves more slowly ’round these parts and yet I still don’t feel relaxed. I slept well the first night here, but last night I managed only about 3.5 hours of sleep. I find that I miss Mina just as much here as I do in our apartment, but it feels different, if that makes any sense.

It’s hard to believe that Mina’s been gone from my life for seven whole weeks. If I take a peek ahead to see seven months or seven years, it’s overwhelming and … impossible. So I’m trying to concentrate on getting through the day and occupying myself as much as possible.

Mina Mina, my sweet, beautiful girl, you are missed so much here