Guess What I Found in Italy?!?

There are times in our lives when we know that there is impending heartbreak, and we honestly don’t know what to do.  Natural to all of us is to try to avoid as much pain as possible (heck, who likes pain?  Nobody that I know!).  For months my behavior had been “odd” — quietly strange.  Deep in my heart I knew something and I didn’t know how to face it or what to do.  My marriage was crumbling.  Wow!  Those are hard words to say!  And, I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to express those words with ease.  So many people go through this brokenness, yet so few people really talk about it.  Sure you hear the crappy stuff — “It’s all his fault.  It’s all her fault.”  Blah, blah, blah.  It’s never “all” any one person’s fault, but it happens.  Sometimes what you think is a good, stable, strong marriage begins to fray at the edges, and it frays, and frays, until it unravels and then suddenly there is a rip and before you know it, things fall apart.

And, so it was for me. Well, there’s a bit more to this story, but that can be shared later. 

During that period of quiet “thinking” a few years ago, one of my eleven kids must have known.  We never really talked about “it” — we didn’t have to.  Everything showed on my face, I’m sure.  But, he knew that my dream was to visit my homeland, Italy, so one day I got a call out of the blue, “Hey, mother.  Do you have a passport? (He knew that I didn’t.)  Then, get one because I’m buying two tickets to Italy.  We’re taking a trip.” 

Chris is a spur of the minute kind of guy, so you never know just what is meant by “we’re taking a trip”, but let’s just say that I had very little time to get my passport!  And packing can be summed up in one word: rough.  Chris doesn’t plan for anything.  His words, “You can take one piece of luggage.  Make it small.  We’re staying for a few weeks, I don’t know where in Italy, but just get packed and have your passport ready.”  That was it.

How do you even respond to that except, “Oh, my gosh!  This is crazy!  You’re taking your old mama to Italy!”  And, a couple of weeks later, we landed in Rome for the adventure of a lifetime.

I’m sure I’ll post pictures of Rome and the many awesome places we visited in another blog.  The history is rich; the art is magnificent.  The love is pure.  Italy is my home.

Above all else, what I found in Italy, though, was strength and peace. Okay, and a few headaches.  I had the train ride from hell that I won’t talk about right now, but let’s just say that I spoke every Italian curse word I could think of when Chris chose “the train” to take us to Sicily.  NEVER AGAIN!!! 

As I begin this new method of blogging — more of a sharing of my life with you — the ups, downs, and all-arounds — I’d like us to talk about the meaty stuff of life, but also balance it with some of the fun stuff, and doggone it — every day  — no matter how bad life gets there is always some fun stuff. 

This is mostly my letter of thanks to a son who cared enough to embarrass himself by being a single, young man taking a not-so-young or fun-at-the-moment mom on a trip to one of the most romantic places in the entire world .  Chris, I know there were times when you wanted to strangle me.  Thanks for not tying your shoestring around my neck.  (Another story for another time.)  Thank you for giving me time away to clear my head a bit, to cry alone at night while in my room, and to digest a little of what was happening in my life — in our lives.  A broken marriage.  Who would have ever thought?  Yet, watching the sea, walking along the streets in Italy brought me a bit of balance and peace, and for that gift I will be eternally thankful.

Now, for the fun part — I took almost 2,000 pictures while in Italy with my little Sony Cybershot point and shoot camera.  Chris took a whole lot more that look a whole lot better with his mighty, super, duper Nikon.  Both cameras did what they were supposed to do — they captured the joy! 

Just a sneak peek of our almost three weeks in Italy:

Oh, this was a wonderful day!  I can even remember what the trees and grass smelled like! And, the mountains were more breathtaking than I ever imagined! 

We went to Italy in March — just when the wildflowers were beginning to paint the fields in gorgeous pink, purple, red and green!  Even the thistles looked beautiful!

There’s so much healing in watching the waves roll in and out to sea….a great reminder that eventually our troubles will be cast upon the waters never to return while the blessings that we’ve given out find their way back to our hearts once again. 

Okay, a rather dorky picture, but I wanted to show everyone that my feet actually touched the soil in Italy.  Here you have it — the proof! 

An old Italian man walked along the rocks and sea finding “treasures”  — I’m not sure what it was called, but they were stones that looked like loofah.  He, too, must have seen the emptiness in my heart at the moment because he walked over and handed me his gifts from the sea, and  now each morning when I wake up, I hold one in my hand and remember — I remember how much we all need each other and how much healing comes from sharing even something as simple as a loofah.  Thank you, my Italian friend.  You gave me joy!

Can you relate?  The threatening storm clouds looming overhead, while the boundless beauty takes the forefront!  Let’s never forget to search for the beauty of each day! 

Yes, I found it.  I found some peace, and I’ll never forget.  Difficult and painful days, weeks, months, and a few years were ahead of me, but I had this memory — this time in Italy with a son who cared about his mother — and I would pull from this memory bank a million times over to pull me through the really hard stuff that came into my life.  I bet I ‘ve looked at this picture hundreds of times reminding myself I would have that joy again — and I do.  I really, really do!

  Yep, he’s the one.  He made it all possible!  Thank you, Chris, for the gift that was far more than “just a trip.”  You gave me a big part of my life back, and for that I’ll be forever grateful!

And, I proved to myself just how strong I really am.  I survived three weeks of tromping through a country with a son who doesn’t believe in plans, agendas, guided tours, or anything that has to do with schedules.  You broke me in good — I’ve been an “impromptu, spontaneous” woman ever since!

PS Chris, promised me he’ll never take me on another trip again!  Once in a lifetime — that’s all I get!  But, hey, once is all we need to get us back to living again!

PPS  I’d love it if you’d share, too, how you found some peace in your life during a hard time.  Hey, that’s how we learn and grow together. 

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