Fools, Friends, and the Great Beyond
Tom Jolu
Tour Journal: A Visit From The Great Beyond

Tour Journal: A Visit From The Great Beyond

I’m not a spiritual man, but today I experienced something I can’t explain:
It was 9AM and we finally made it to Minneapolis. The only problem with making to a show that early was finding something to do. But after two days of driving we were welcoming the idea of relaxing. Since the sun was shining and it felt like it was going to be a warm day, we decided to find a park and make it our home base. As we parked, I opened the door to the van, stretched my legs, and told Ty (my tour mate) I’d be back “eventually”.

The smell of wildflowers and cedar carried on the breeze as I walked through a wooded section of the park. Although it was smack dab in the middle of the city, it felt like I was somewhere secluded – somewhere sacred. I continued to walk while watching the squirrels hide their newly acquired acorns until the trees opened up to a pond. Down the middle, a floating dock stood extending all the way to the other end. As I walked down the dock, ripples pushed past lily pads to the edge of the pond where flowers and cattails basked in the late morning sun. I sat down and soon my thoughts began to wander to years ago when I went out west.

It was 2016, and after months of working constant twelve-hour shifts, I had a good chunk of money saved up. I had two choices: be responsible and put a down payment on a new car, or use that money for myself. I was getting more and more irritated with life. I wasn’t where I wanted to be. I was frustrated, moody, and miserable. So I decided to take a break from life, and disappear for a bit.
After paying all my bills for the month, I hit the road. This was the first time since I was a kid where I didn’t need to go to work. This was also the first time where, when I hit the road, there weren’t any shows to play, or tour schedules to keep. It was just me and the road. I didn’t know what to do. The only thing I knew through those three days of driving was that I wanted to see the pacific ocean.

Just then, a feeling came over me that I had to get up and keep walking. I wasn’t hungry and I didn’t have any place to be, but I knew I had to get up from where I was, so I got up and walked back to where I came from.
At a crossroads in the path sat a bench, half-covered by the shade of a willow tree, and though I’d only walked a hundred yards, this seemed like the perfect place to stop. As I sat I noticed a butterfly float by. Besides years ago during the fall semester at my old community college, it was rare that I ever saw butterflies. This butterfly, unlike those butterflies of my past, hovered for a minute and landed on the other side of the bench in the sunlight.

Once again my mind started to wander. This time it drifted to my mother. It had been five years since her death. Though some days are easier than others, it was times like this – where I was thousands of miles away from home, where I wish I could call her. She’d always been proud of my achievements as a musician and loved to know where we were going next. I sat, watching the butterfly and thought of how when I was a kid, my mother made a mural in the living room. She spent hours painting flowers, hummingbirds, and butterflies. I used to watch her at a distance, amazed at how she changed a blank, white wall into something with such depth and life. 

The butterfly floated past my line of vision as a breeze blew. The willow tree swayed, and one of the long, slender branches brushed across my cheek. I felt a presence, as if someone was behind me, so I turned and stood, only to see that no one was there. In that same moment I heard my mother say,
“I’m here. You’re Safe. Keep Going.” 
 I picked up my things and walked as fast as I could away from that bench. But as I walked away, I heard my mother again, 
“I’m here. You’re safe. Keep going.”

With my hand on the guardrail I closed my eyes, but something inside me was telling me to turn. I didn’t know what I was expecting to see, but I had to. Something inside me, just as strong as the feeling that told me to sit on that bench, told me to turn. I thought that if I turned around fast enough that she’d be there smiling at me, waving. I knew that wasn’t realistic. I knew that I shouldn’t get my hopes up, but when you lose someone every part of you hopes for one more time. One more time to say “hello”. One more time to hug them. One more time to tell them everything you couldn’t tell them before. But rarely do we ever get that chance.
The breeze had stopped. I took a deep breath and did my best to gain some form of composure. After my mind settled, I turned around. All that was there was the bench underneath the willow, it’s branches still waving. 
My eyes began to water as I sat back down on the edge of that dock.
“Hi mom” I said.