Ramblings of a World Traveler,
Having returned from a holiday in England and a retreat in Italy slightly damaged (I fell twice), I have had some down time to reflect. I have been reading William Bridges book TRANSITIONS. For those of you who have followed me, you are aware that my husband died last March. Six months have passed and I am moving out of the paralyzing "time of fallow" into a time of inspired creativity. It is with great excitement and gratitude that I can see possibilities that were hidden from me before.
Bridges proposes that all new beginnings come from "endings". Obviously, the death of a spouse is an ending of a way of life. There is so much to do, to comprehend, to adjust, to recover, to rest, to come to grips with reality. The actual change in one's sense of self is overwhelming. The possibility of a new beginning is foreign. In fact, our brains have no room to contemplate such a thing.
So... what changed, you ask?
As a traveler, this was my first trip abroad since Ken's death. I was traveling without carrying him in my mind. I had been his caregiver for a decade or more. I was now free to savor my experiences in a way that was foreign, yet, delightful. I carried his ashes to England to one of his favorite places in the world. I experienced the love and care from old friends, who loved us both. I took my first fall in England.
Traveling to Italy the next week, my purse was stolen upon arrival. I was surprised by my reaction. Calmly, without panic, I moved into a state of lack of identity. No passport, money, credit cards, driver's license. Somehow, this seemed familiar.
With gratitude, many people were instrumental in their generosity to help me reestablish my identity. Our fabulous cook and host Roberta helped me complete the police report, get passport pictures, and train tickets to Florence. Nancy Bailey, a high school friend, worked diligently to help me prepare my application and assorted paperwork at her home that night. The next day on my way to the consulate, a group of "angels" (tourists and locals) arrived when I tripped on the cobblestones and needed stitches. Again, without identity, I moved into another foreign world. .... an Italian hospital. I found more "angels" there. Four stitches later and an excruciating headache, I returned to the world with a purple face and a huge compression bandage on my forehead. I certainly didn't look like me!
The next day, Nancy and I arrived at the consulate early in the day and by 10:30 a.m. I had my temporary passport in hand and boarded a train back to my retreat.
Since my return home, I have given serious thought to this whole experience. I see it as a mirror of the last 6 months of my life. The falls were instrumental in showing me how much I am valued by friends and strangers. The stolen purse reflects my lack of identity after Ken's death. With the help of many "angels" and my daughter, my identity was restored by the time I reached home. A new identity, new life, new opportunities and new perspective.