As you are aware already, I am walking the Camino de Santiago, and hopefully the Camino Finisterre and Muxia in remembrance of my mum and to honour her life. She was my best friend. These last few months have been very challenging, watching mum deteriorate and go through pain and suffering. She was incredibly brave and courageous throughout and seemed to emanate dignity and grace. While, I cared for her at home, I discovered what an honour and a privilege it is to accompany a loved one during their end of life journey, even though it is a hard road to tread. After mum passed away, I do not think that I gave myself the time and space to grieve. I thought my Camino walk would enable me to unlock my grief and come to terms with the fact that she is no longer physically here.
I have indeed had many opportunities to think about mum while I walk along, especially those very quiet moments, in the early morning light when I am on my own. However, I have been surprised to find that I have not shed the flood of tears I expected yet. In fact my emotions have been a real spectrum.
For example, yes, there have been profound moments of deep loss, when I felt upwellings of emotion in my heart. For example in the Oakwood of Witches in Roncesvalles, or when sitting in some of the smaller churches, or walking along a particularly desolate and bleak section of The Way. I have given myself over to these moments, to embrace my feelings and allow them to pass through my body. It is at these times that I have felt as though mum had reached out across space and time to me to tell me, “I am here, Sarah. I have not left.”
Other moments, when I have felt mum’s presence, have been when I have walked with Laurie and Alan. With Laurie, it is almost as though our combined energies and intention on the Camino, have amplified a channel and signs from mum have become apparent. Little things like noticing the colour mauve, one of mum’s favourite colours, at several points along the journey, or feathers when I have come out of a church after lighting a candle and offering up a prayer for her. When I walked with Alan, we were able to share some happy memories, because our respective parents had met on our graduation day, all those years ago at Durham University and Alan had met mum several times since.
In both Azofra and Carrion de los Condes, I was moved to tears when I heard one of mum’s favourite songs, “Time to say goodbye”, by Andrea Boccelli and Sarah Brightman, playing in the background in the local bars where I had stopped for coffee. I thought this was a sign from mum that she was watching over me.
When I reached Villafranca de Montes de Oca, the beautiful roses in the courtyard garden at Hotel San Anton Abad, took me down memory lane. Mum adored roses. Her favourite rose was a variety called ‘Compassion’, that had a wonderful fragrance. For mum’s 80th birthday last year I gave two rose bushes to my mum – ‘Kathleen’s Rose’ and ‘Birthday Girl’, which were flourishing. When my mum passed away, my good friend Shelley, another friend from my Durham University days, kindly sent me a rose bush called ‘Grace’ to remember my mum by. It was the perfect gift of remembrance and my Auntie Josie and I held our own special rose planting ceremony in mum’s garden after we had interred her ashes in the parish churchyard. The rose is a living memorial to mum, with a very apt name!
When fellow pilgrims ask about my Camino journey, I tell them why I am walking and I have felt their warmth and compassion wash over me as I tell them about my mum. Her memory lives on in the stories I share and becomes part of the greater whole, as we are all connected!
I take this moment to thank you for journeying with me so far…
More posts are coming.
Peace, love and light,