There is a certain freedom that comes after you’ve endured a monstrous loss. When you’ve gone through the worst, is there anything left to fear?
As it turns out, yes. Anniversaries, holidays, social gatherings, polite conversation, fading memories – all terrifying.
For months, June 14th loomed large and ominous. What are you supposed to do on the anniversary of your child’s death?
The answer to this terrible question is as individual as a fingerprint. For me, one thing was clear: We would have to go away. And considering the thing we were escaping from, it would have to be big.
Enter Italy and Switzerland.
Switzerland, because my mom has wanted to go there. Italy, because I found only one guided travel package that would get us to Switzerland around the right time, and it started in Italy.
My spirits lifted as we made the reservations. It would be a grand adventure. Julianna would definitely approve!
A few months later, I regretted it. Travel requires stamina and an open spirit; grief is exhausting. I felt like spending June 14th in bed.
Fortunately, the deposit was nonrefundable.
Julianna’s First Heaven Day
The group tour was set to start on 16 June. To accomplish my goal of being AWAY on 14 June, we flew into Milan a few days early.
Breakfast at the hotel looked more like a tea party.
We visited the Duomo, Milan’s massive gothic cathedral.
(It reminded me a little of this picture — the Duomo is not subtle…)
We lit a candle in front of the picture of the Madonna and Child.
And learned that it is the only cathedral in Europe that is made of pink marble — who would have thought?
We also saw a castle.
Then I spent the rest of the day in bed nursing my jet lag and my grief. I listened to recordings of our sweet girl and I missed her, just as I have every second of every minute of every day that she’s been gone.
Like the love that causes it, grief never stops. You have to make room for it, even when you are halfway around the world on the trip of a lifetime.
Part II is coming soon…