I enjoy meeting new people and I especially value keeping in touch with people. Ten years ago my mom and I met Sammy on a Mediterranean cruise we were all on. She was traveling with friends and we all ended up at the same table every night for dinner. Every evening at dinner was filled with lots of laughter and getting to know one another. Over the years we have sporadically kept in touch and since she lives in Maryland, it was so neat to be able to see her again and meet some of her family.
Much of my trip has been filled with spectacular sights, beautiful nature, big cities, but one of my favourite aspects is the people that I have been able to visit and reconnect with along the way. I am so thankful we weren’t created to live in isolation but we were created to relate to one another and build relationships with those around us. I am continually filled with gratitude at the rich tapestry of people who have been woven into my life, whether for a short time, frequently or periodically through the years. Different seasons of life shift relationships and I am thankful for each one.
It’s a curious thing to travel by yourself for long periods of time. I really enjoy time spent by myself but I also enjoy people. After leaving Maryland, I had ten straight days by myself. One of the layers of grief I have had to walk through is my feelings of being alone. Having no parents, no spouse and no children, sometimes it feels like I am adrift without anything anchoring or rooting me. My mom was the person who always followed me every moment and tracked with me every step of the way. I would share all the details of the day and pictures with her. It is hard to face the loss of a relationship that was so deeply woven into my life.
So on some levels I have this level of feeling alone. And yet when I stop to reflect on it, I am blown away by the amazing friends and rich community that surrounds me. On this trip, I am thankful for those who send random messages to say hello and to see how I’m doing. I’m thankful for those who have followed me and encouraged me along the way and cared about where I was and if I made it to the next location safely.
I look at other people’s webs of relationships and mine looks different but that doesn’t make it any less meaningful. I have people who love me, support me, affirm me, and cheer me on. I have people who have wept with me, laughed with me, walked with me through the darkest valleys and been okay to sit in the silence and loss with me. So although my “official” family tree may have shifted, I am aware that there have been amazing people grafted in, woven in and embedded in the fabric of who I am and who I am becoming. I am not alone. It’s funny though how easy it is to lose sight of this. And yet even this trip has served as a reminder of it. I have someone I can visit in Maryland (amongst many other states!). I have people who have been significant parts of my life and I want to continue remembering and celebrating those people. I am far from being alone even when there’s no one around.