I’ve just ended 7 days of My Camino. Thanks for joining me on the journey.
I’m not really sure what a blog is intended to be. I am not a writer. For me, this is just my journal. I haven’t carried a journal with me on this adventure because I didn’t want the weight. So every afternoon or evening at the end of my walk I just jot down random things that I have been thinking or experiences that I’ve had. I will post when I can. I have found that good wifi is hard to come by, and blogging by iPhone is a challenge. But here we go anyway. If there is something for you here in this journal, that’s great. If not, well, that’s ok too. As I said, I’m not a writer. This is just me.
So how did I get here? I remember in the days and weeks that followed Connor’s memorial service all I could think about was going for a long walk. I just needed to go. Somewhere. Anywhere. I just needed to move. At first I thought a walk across the United States would be the thing to do. Some day I would like to do this. But I just didn’t have the energy to grieve and plan something as monumental as U.S. Walk. We just don’t have the infrastructure in place in the U.S. for such a walk. And honestly, I just was not prepared to be away from my family for 6 months. In March 2015, about 14 months after Connor was gone, Connor’s dad, Jerry, mentioned to me in an email the possibility of hiking The Camino. I had heard of The Way, but didn’t know much about it. Jerry told me all about it on that day and I knew that this was what I had to do. That’s how I got here. And while I’m the one walking, this is really Jerry’s journey and I know some day he will come and walk along this same trail.
A little history about this pilgrimage: The Camino de Santiago, also known by the English names Way of St. James or simply The Way is the name of any of the pilgrimage routes to the shrine of the apostle St. James the Great in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in northwestern Spain, where many people believe his remains are buried. Countless people have taken this journey since the discovery of the burial site. In fact, the pilgrimage to Santiago has never ceased since that discovery. It began as a journey of faith or a spiritual path. But today it’s not only Christians that take the journey. People from all walks of life can be found on the Camino. But still for many, it’s a journey of reflection and a journey of faith. And so that’s what it is for me.
There are many routes to Santiago and I have chosen the most traveled road, The French route, which begins in St Jean Pied de Port, on the French side of the Pyrenees. Today I have just completed 6 days of walking and covered 113 kilometers, or just over 68 miles.
So far, it’s been a wonderful experience. But when does a Camino really start? Is it the day we step foot on the road to Santiago? I’m not sure. There is a lot of discussion among pilgrims that I meet every day on this trek about when their Camino began. So I’ve been thinking about this since I started. If it’s a journey of faith, when does that begin for a person? I think the answer is different for everyone. Did my Camino begin when I decided to do it? Or did it begin when I was born? Maybe it was when Connor was born or when he got sick or when I had my hand on his chest and felt his last heartbeat. I haven’t decided when my Camino began. Maybe that’s for me to discover while I’m walking.
But for the sake of this blog, I will say that my Camino began after I went thru security in San Francisco and waved goodbye to Scott and Nick standing on the other side.
The travel to St Jean was easy and uneventful, but the second that I turned away from those guys waving goodbye to me I was overcome with a sense of being completely alone in the world. So for the next 12 hours getting to Paris I thought about this. I’ve said (using my inside voice, and sometimes my outside voice to my husband, Scott) since Connor died that I am just alone. I am completely alone in the world. But I think what I realized on that flight is that there is a difference between loneliness and being alone. I just think that the anatomy of vocabulary cannot quite articulate the feeling of losing a child because it’s so unnatural. But by the time I landed I had come to terms with the fact that I am incredibly lonely. But never alone. I am lonely for my son, for my only child. There is a gaping hole that can never be filled and I am lonely. Alone in the world means that if I disappeared today no one would know or miss me. If I disappeared today I am fortunate enough to have a wonderful family, siblings and friends that would miss me. I am not alone. Lonely, on the other hand, means something is missing. And in the case of child loss, unless you too have lost a child, there is no way to fully understand it. It is not the same as other losses, at least for me.
Since I left SFO on September 10 I have walked 68 miles. Over mountains and hills and through rain and thunder and lightening and sunshine. Through villages and cities, with groups of people and without. I have met so many people already and each has taught me a lesson.
It is said that you meet people on the Camino for a reason, and that the Camino provides. I will catch you up over the over the next few day on the trek and the characters that I have met in this week.
But today I am grateful for this first lesson of The Camino and to for my family and friends, all of those that have kept me moving these last 687 days (the number of days since Connor was diagnosed with metastatic melanoma). Much love to you, family and friends and