Photographer: Barbara Potter
On September 6, 2018 I boarded a plane alone and traveled across the North Atlantic to the number one travel destination on my Bucket List - Italy. It was a trip that I had always wanted to experience, and yet, I never imagined the cost to be so high.
You see... my name was submitted by my friend Debbie for a scholarship to a writing/yoga retreat that following September in Tuscany. I did not know about the submission and had never done yoga in my life. The retreat would be given by Jen Pastiloff and the scholarship was for a woman who had lost a child. I had recently lost two of my children in a car crash.
Jen asked Debbie to introduce us and that is when I learned of the magic that would be entering my life eight months later.
I flew into Frankfurt, Germany ten months after the boys’ crash with the over night bag from hell and a heart in pieces. I had to check my suitcase in Atlanta and muttered every curse word I could think of (and probably made up a few) as I trekked the 100 mile journey through the Frankfurt airport. I definitely made up a few choice words as I lugged myself and all of my things into the tiny European restrooms while attempting to pretend the floor was lava in order to not touch anything other than the one square foot I was standing/squatting/NOT sitting on.
Fun Fact: America - I love your beautiful, large, and free to the public, toilet system.
I neglected to mention that somehow by all that is holy, I scored an empty row on my otherwise-full nine hour flight from the US. For the 1.5 hour flight from Frankfurt to Florence I was packed in a small ERJ, but at that point, I didn’t care. As we were landing, I could see the Florence Cathedral in the distance and there were truly no words for the rush of emotion I felt. How do you describe the knowledge of such a gift occurring purely because your children died?
It is a weight and a wonder all at once.
Italy was incredible: the food, the people, the doors, the Duomo, the breathtaking views, and the magnificent architecture. I fell hard and fast for the majesty that is Florence and the countryside of Tuscany that is filled with hills and valleys, vineyards and villas, blood orange sunrises and lavender sunsets. As incredible as those things were they all paled in comparison to the stunning souls of the twenty-two women I still carry with me. I was a part of something bigger than myself. I mentioned the word “magic” earlier. It is a word associated with Jen’s On Being Human workshops and retreats. There is something to be awestruck by when you can sit with another human and their pain. Imagine that times twenty-two. We danced. We sang.
We cried-oh-so-many tears. We shared things in that room that will stay in that room. We trusted one another. We inhaled one another. And, we exhaled transformation.
On our last morning at Locanda Cugnanello we each wrote five things we loved about one another and passed them out. Just the other morning I sat down with mine and went through them one by one. I still feel the love and sisterhood that flows through those pages. Sometimes, I can close my eyes and still taste coffee on the veranda or feel the morning mist on my skin at sunrise or drink wine in the evening by candlelight... or hear the crack of my heart breaking wide open.
The biggest treasures I walked away with on that last day was in the understanding that we live in a big, wide world filled with glorious, shining souls from all walks of life who will willingly carry your pain along with their own. Maybe even more miraculous is the realization that no matter how shattered this heart of mine might be, it somehow still stretches enough to hold theirs in return.
Now, that’s MAGIC.
9/7/2020 01:04:52 pm
I absolutely adore you and your words. I love you.
9/7/2020 08:49:14 pm
I cannot believe it had been two years since the incredible adventure we embarked upon together with our tribe. This post brought me right back to pizza making night, wine tastings & celebrating our 100th birthdays with each other. Miss you. xo.