I’ve just spent a beautiful week in Italy in a villa at the top of a mountain, overlooking miles and miles of green; tiny villages, hills, valleys, and winding roads spread out before me like a picture post card come to life. Every day the sky was a brilliant blue and though sometimes it threatened to rain, it never actually did rain on us.
Italy is beautiful. It’s friendly, warm, welcoming and has pasta so delicious you’ll remember it forever. The first night in a little town called Umbrio I had a plateful of fettuccine with perfectly spiced white sauce and shredded truffles. Man oh man, I dream of it. And will continue to for a long, long time. Foolishly when at the grocery story today I wondered if I could recreate it. Of course not! Clo might have been able to do that. But certainly I couldn’t. I don’t have her exquisite taste buds. I will just have to go back to Italy to find that food of the gods again. It would almost be worth the trip for just that one meal. And we had many more as totally astounding.
I bought a precious little hand painted lamp and watched the artist, Miriam, create it. She is delicate, quiet, gifted, and gracious. I was looking at lamps at a small store in Gubbio and the owner got I was really interested so said, follow me, I will show you someone who can REALLY create lamps. And off down the ancient road he led my daughter, my son, my brother and me. Like obedient ducklings we followed him to what we discovered was his wife’s shop where she created her own magnificent lamps and other pottery. We watched in fascination as she delicately and painstakingly made very tiny brush strokes on a unique lamp that was blossoming before us. He introduced her to us and us to her. She owns her own shop. We watched, talked with her, learned, and I bought the most expensive lamp in the store of course!
I feel I have taken another step toward healing as I leave this gifted artisan’s tiny shop. The redesigning of my home without Clo is a constant work in progress. Each new purchase I make without her input seems to heal yet another bit of the space left empty between us. She would love this lamp too, but that is not the point, nor was it any of my consideration in choosing it. I loved it. I led with loving it. I didn’t consult. I chose. My choices are intuitive. I am not the gifted creator and artisan that Clo was. AND I have positive energy that draws me to what helps nurture and fill me. I know right where I am going to put the lamp: on a beautiful cherry table with black wrought iron centre that Clo made some years ago and I have always loved and admired. Right by the front door where it will be seen immediately when anyone enters the house. On the table will be a green plant, the light will be lit, the table will glow. A space we have both created which welcomes those who are now my guests and once were our guests. For me, that particular space in my living room is a work of art. Above the table is a handmade round rose wood mirror that is nearly 40 years old. It was a handmade gift from a dear friend long ago, and like Clo’s cherry wood table, it will follow me from life time to life time.
Things changed when I came home. I left for Italy not having had time to grieve the loss of Liz. I thought of her while on the mountain near Gubbio but there were too many distractions to focus on her absence with any real intentionality. My way of dealing when I am not consciously paying attention is for my heart to go out of control again, and I ended up in the emergency room for cardio version number 10.
Death and I walked side by side for several days. It is curious to me that again and again my heart speaks to me and tells me when I need something; that I need to be paying attention to myself. What is it I am not seeing? Love? I know I am loved. Rest? I rest a fair bit. Nap? Yes, I do that and meditate almost daily and I sleep well at night. I don’t know what the message is. My daughter Lisa says stop worrying about the message, or what you have to learn, and accept you have a heart disease and your heart simply will go out from time to time. Just factor that into life as it is for you.
Maybe I can do that. Maybe I HAVE to do that. I told her I was concerned that I could no longer travel. She said nonsense, we will just assume part of the end trip is a visit to the emergency room. Not my first choice, but I deeply appreciate her sense of humour and taking it all in stride. I blame myself. She doesn’t blame me. Thank you dear Lisa.
Death walking by my side tires me. It frightens me as well. I want to be alive and well and filled with joy and hope, with gifts to give and gifts to receive. I had an EMDR treatment and a tapping treatment and an NMT treatment with my naturopathic doctor yesterday. All three treatments were done remotely and geared toward shifting energy and healing internal stress. She is the softest spoken, most brilliant and intuitive, wise, caring and thorough person I know. I felt lighter. Death dimmed.
That I am smack dab in the middle of big time change is so very obvious. Clo started that process for me; or maybe it started before Clo was diagnosed and we didn’t either one of us know it was happening. Who am I as an aging woman? Where do I find joy, passion, desire, satisfaction, and meaning now that I am on my own? I have this image of a woman in dusty clothes on a tired horse headed into the desert just her and her horse, looking to begin life again, or maybe better, looking to continue life in a new way.
There are many questions I ask myself almost daily. Questions you may be asking yourself as well. When life becomes dull, we begin to fade. I am beginning to realize that for me, when I FEAR life might be dull I begin to fade. My life is NOT dull. Aging makes us take a new look at what it means to be alive, to contribute, to move forward. I will not allow aging to stop my travels. There is so much adventure ahead for me and one of the gifts of aging is time for travel. I bless my wonderful trip to Italy with my brother and my daughter Lisa and son Craig to a villa near Gubbio in the mountains of Italy. I will return and visit Assisi and stay for an extended period of time in Florence and see if Miriam the brilliant lamp lady has the right and perfect lamp for my newly redesigned bedroom.
I celebrate the wisdom of age. I refuse the vulnerability of age and will creatively turn it around to make travel and change work for me and not against me. Brave words and possibly not totally wise promises I am making to myself. But I mean those words and that is what my mind and soul want my heart to understand.
Use your vulnerability to your advantage. Let being vulnerable be your friend not your enemy. When I am vulnerable I am my deepest core self. That is the part of me that wants to be seen and wants to feel loved. I would bet it is similar for you. Find people in the world who value your vulnerable self and do not let that precious, sacred part of you be hurt any more than it has already been hurt. Open your heart. Let love walk in. Trust when you know it isn’t love and learn to breathe in safety. Feeling safe is the trick. Many of us lost our trust as wee little ones. Now we can say no and refuse to be where it doesn’t feel safe.
I am curious to know more about why I feel safe in Italy, a country and language I know very little about. Ultimately however, I don’t think knowing why is very important. What is, is. I will return, having grieved the loss of Liz and celebrate learning to thrive even when vulnerable.