I awoke this morning to an NPR "Morning Edition" segment interviewing the author of a book Rawhide Down written about an event that happened 30 years ago on March 11, 1981. I remember that day so vividly. I was driving solo through the mountains in New Mexico after leaving behind a home and a marriage in the Midwest and making my way to Phoenix. The news report cut into the music station I was listening to...President Ronald Regan had been shot. Just as the announcement came over the air waves, I rounded a bend on the side of the mountain and the radio signal was cut. For several miles, I was in a panic.
Those are words none of us ever want to hear, but this was the second time I had heard them. In November 1963, my fifth-grade teacher received a note from an urgent student who had walked into the classroom without knocking. Miss Munsen read the note, walked over to the television hanging from the wall, and turned it on. There on the black and white screen the frantic news reports were coming through about President John F. Kennedy.
This drive through the mountains was almost 20 years later, but that gut-wrenching feeling was the same. I was finally able to pull off the road when the radio reception returned. I remember sitting in my car, staring intently at a huge boulder outside my windshield, straining to hear those words that our president would be OK. I needed to hear this. I wanted assurance during these uncertain days of my personal life that everything would work out. I could not bring myself to drive any further, so I waited. And I cried. That news bulletin, and now this boulder, represented everything that was happening in my life. On that day it seemed the world was crashing down all around me.
I finished that good cry. It was exactly what I needed. It was cathartic. I was finally able to let out all the crap that had been building in my life for the last several years. It all vanished there on the side of that mountain.
When I finished my crying jag, I pulled back out onto the roadway. After a few miles, word came over the radio that President Regan would survive. I felt relief for him, but also for myself. I knew that I, too, would figure things out and be OK.