It’s 11:40 am in Spain. I’ve been awake since it was 8:00 am in Spain. I tried to go back to sleep several times, but finally gave up. I decided to something useful with my early morning time. Yesterday this letter was floating around in my mind – so here it is: A Letter to My Camino Family.
Dear Camino Family,
Thank you for walking alongside me over the last two and a half weeks. Thank you for being open to new people, new places and new experiences. Thank you for allowing me to be part of your Camino journey.
Thank you for teaching me about strength and perseverance. I saw your blisters and your tired feet. I saw your aching legs and throbbing knees. I also saw you get up each morning, put on your walking shoes and step out onto the path. I was amazed with your willingness to walk through the pain, endure the long days and still find a way to end the day with a smile.
Thank you for walking with my mom. Although we arrived together, we were each on our own Camino. I needed to walk my own way, while she walked hers – and those were two different ways. Thank you for caring for her feet and encouraging her and giving her a sugar cube when her energy was low. Thank you for letting me know she was fine when you were still out there walking. Thank you for not expecting me to be by her side the whole time. Thank you for helping me understand that I can only be responsible for me.
Thank you for not making fun of me when I couldn’t stand the sight of the tentacles and full-bodied tiny squid in my paella. Thank you for removing it from my plate and hiding it in the napkins. Thank you for not ordering calamari when I was at the table because you knew there would be those tiny squid on the plate and you didn’t want to upset me.
Thank you for acknowledging my need for space and allowing me to walk alone for one day. Thank you for asking what I needed. Thank you for not asking “what’s wrong” when I’m sure you heard me sniffling behind you.
Thank you for all the laughter.
Thank you for asking “does it upset you when I talk about my children?” Thank you for listening to my infertility story and honoring my journey. Thank you for not trying to fix it or offer suggestions or tell me what so-and-so did. Thank you for allowing my story to be heard on the Camino way.
Thank you for teaching me about patience, for teaching me that it’s possible to survive on only a few hours of sleep because of snoring, for teaching me that everyone deals with anxiety in different ways.
Thank you for doing my laundry.
Thank you for helping me understand, once again, that I can’t fix everything. Thank you for letting me be uncomfortable in the presence of your suffering.
Thank you for letting me tell you stories about Denali. Thank you for your compassion and deep understanding when I found out our puppy was no longer ours.
Thank you for giving me space to write and reflect. Thank you for listening to a Jan Richardson blessing or two. Thank you for the silent reverence as I cried in my mom’s arms. Thank you for the napkins to wipe away our tears.
Thank you for the cream to relieve the heat rash on my feet. Thank you for the Vaseline when I lost mine. Thank you for getting my water bottle out of my bag every time we took a break.
Thank you for the inside jokes and the stories I can’t repeat here.
Thank you for appreciating all the animals we saw each day. Thank you for noticing the small ones I may have passed by if you hadn’t been there. Thank you for stopping to take pictures as much as I did.
Thank you for all the ice cream stops. Thank you for the chocolate. Thank you for sharing your snacks when the breakfast stop was farther away than we expected. Thank you for sharing your lunch when we the town we stopped in didn’t appear to have food (although had we kept walking a few more meters we would have discovered one!).
Thank you for allowing me to have a few moments to complain about how “bumps” to one person may, in fact, be “mountains” to another.
Thank you for sharing pieces of your life with me.
We weren’t all in the same room for our last night together. Some left early. A few left before I had a chance to say goodbye. You appeared in my life one day as a stranger. You disappeared one day as a friend. We will forever be bonded thanks to the Camino. Thank you.