Reality Revisited: Gone Walking

First posted in June 2019. We have grown so much more than we ever thought we would, and we want to share our earlier posts. We aim to reflect on the early struggles of our grief, and what we went through without our mum. We are proud of where we have come from, and of where we are going. We hope you are as well.

If you are struggling with your grief, that is okay. You are not alone.

~

In March of last year, my Mum and I were watching a documentary about the Camino de Santiago – a pilgrimage in the North of Spain, with many different routes leading to Santiago de Compostela. I decided there and then, that I would do it myself that summer. 

This was also around the time that I met my boyfriend. He had already completed the Primitive Route from Oviedo and I was eager to learn more about the pilgrimage. I was still suffering and threw myself into organising the Camino as a solution to my pain and an opportunity to heal. Up until that point the winter had been the most heart wrenching and traumatic time because we had never seen Mum be so unwell (Our Story).  

I felt emotionally exhausted and wanted the opportunity to transfer this emotional struggle into a physical challenge that I could overcome, learn and develop from. My initial thought was that I could go on this pilgrimage with Evee, which I soon decided against because I just wanted to be Katie. An independent 23-year-old, who only had to look after herself, and the Camino was going to give me that. I wanted the simplicity of waking up and only having to put one foot in front of the other. 

Mum was really enthusiastic about this idea too. She thought it was great and something she would have liked to have done also, if she had the strength. I became fixated on the Camino, it was all I could talk about, and I truly thought it would make me “better”. 

At the end of May, I sprained my ankle so severely that it might as well have been broken. 

I laid back on a hospital bed, too afraid to look at my purple and black ankle, wondering how I was going to get up the stairs to my bedroom when I was home. Relieved to not see a fracture on the x-ray, I asked the nurse if I would still be able to do the Camino, she looked at me with surprised eyes and scoffed – “I wouldn’t”. I wasn’t convinced though. 

For the next 3 weeks, I stayed in bed unable to walk and willed my ankle to heal. In my head, my mum was still going to drive me to catch the ferry across to Santander on the 10thJune. I was going to walk alone for the first week or two and meet my boyfriend along the way to complete the Camino together. To my annoyance, my ankle was taking far longer than I expected to heal, so I kept on adjusting my plan for the Camino – I’d go in July instead. 

Little did we know that that winter, when my mum had been so ill, was only the beginning of our pain in 2018.

And that short window where we thought Mum was getting better, was going to close in June, and we would have to batten down the hatches for the second half of the storm, but this time Mum wouldn’t come out the other side (As Told By Katie). 

It was mid-June, and by this time I was able to walk without crutches allowing me to get up and down stairs again and drive to the hospital. I’m not really sure if I believe in God, but I remember thanking Him that I sprained my ankle so terribly; When we found out the bad news, I was meant to be in rural North Spain without phone signal or internet. I would have never forgiven myself had I not been with my mum when she needed her family the most. We knew by the 19th of June, that she was not going to get better this time and I didn’t think of the Camino again. 

~

4 weeks ago, on Sunday I submitted my final university assignment, I had my final bereavement counselling session on the Monday, and that evening I found a really cheap one-way flight to Ibiza for the Wednesday. I didn’t want to give my decision too much thought, in case I’d change my mind. I knew that I needed time to focus on getting better within myself, without the noise and chaos of everyday living, and it wasn’t going to work at home. 

I wanted to rest, to reflect on the past few years, and to take a long look at myself. I wanted to learn who I am now and what my next step will be. Initially, I found it incredibly difficult to decide how to spend my days. Where did I want to go, and what did I want to see? Once more I was putting too much pressure on myself. By the end of the first week, I simply decided to not decide. As long as I had a place to sleep that night- it was okay. 

This frame of mind instantly took the pressure off, and as a result I was able to relax in the moment rather than worry about the following days. Over the past 3 weeks, I spent a lot of time walking with no destination in mind, and it didn’t take long for thoughts of the Camino to soon bubble to the surface. 

I made the snap decision to finally do the Camino. By the time that this is posted, I will be in rural North Spain without phone signal or internet, learning who I am now, and what my next step will be, exactly one year on (with an ankle brace).

Katie

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21 thoughts on “Reality Revisited: Gone Walking

  1. I hope all that you are searching for and perhaps a few unexpected yet potentially life changing encounters and experiences find you while walking and enhance your life further. Thank you for sharing. Also, after experiencing so much in this past year I have learned that there are many things in all of our lives that happen for a reason.

    1. Thank you for commenting afterthoughtkj, I am so glad I finally did it, i was faced with many opportunities to reflect and learn. Can’t wait to write a post about it all. If you are not sure whether to do the camino or not, I would definitely recommend it 🙂

      1. When I make it across the Atlantic I will keep that in mind. Thank you for the suggestion. I do enjoy being out hiking as often as I am able. I am glad you made it and look forward to reading about your journey.

  2. “In March of last year, my Mum and I were watching a documentary about the Camino de Santiago – a pilgrimage in the North of Spain, with many different routes leading to Santiago de Compostela. I decided there and then, that I would do it myself that summer.”

    What a striking inspirational opening Katie, to your essay about your journey!

    I have to say straightaway this was a very interesting posting of yours to read since my last contact was an offering of my condolences about your mum’s passing; a very wise and dedicated Mum! Obviously so much of her is carried forward in this world as a living legacy in you, now that she is in Heaven and us the earthbound living; must carry on, with still more to do before our own times come to leave here.

    Your determination to make it to Camino is an amazing tribute and honor I believe to your Mum and your own deep devotion to God’s plan!

    With so much resistance that suddenly came you were seeking Divine Guidance to take things as Saint Mother Teresa said is so important, one day at a time!
    “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come.
    We have only today. Let us begin.”
    — Mother Teresa
    And ultimately you proved how true that is as you even took it one step at a time trusting what was in your heart through Jesus Christ!

    http://www.coachingconfidence.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Yesterday-is-gone.-Tomorrow-has-not-yet-come.-We-have-only-today.-Let-us-begin.-Mother-Teresa.jpg

    God bless you for persevering and loving our Father in heaven through His Son, our Savior Jesus! Now you shared this very important story about your experience that obviously had a great uplifting impact on your life and in turn now it does so much to inspire and encourage the faith in others to really do what Saint Mother Teresa stated is so important our having to take it one day at a time but you fine-tuned this idea to bring it down to the essential of one step at a time, as I now say we can only take one breath at a time so simplicity is the key to finding truth; God’s Truth! Thank you Katie!

    I just realized I didn’t share a couple of essays of mine with you and now would be a fine time to do that!

    They both involve walking and being in the Spirit asking the Lord to lead the way; being in communion with him and the Father through the Holy Spirit! I hope these will give you added faith and hope! Amen.

    https://lawrencemorra.com/2019/11/07/he-alone-is-the-way-the-path-and-the-life-and-none-come-to-the-father-but-by-the-son/

    In this one the Salvation Stone you will I think find it will touch a chord within of hope and faith. As you read it once you come to the comments you will see a couple of other essays I had sent out to another good Christian, three in a row that I sent on the 9th of November which I know will have something again to be encouraging for you and I hope very helpful.

    https://lawrencemorra.com/2020/02/22/a-passing-ship/

    God bless you and keep you!

    Brother in Christ Jesus,
    Lawrence

    https://allauthor.com/images/poster/large/1483728766793-yesterday-is-gone-tomorrow-has-not-yet-come-we-have-only-today-let-us-begin.jpg

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