I really did not feel like a holiday… In fact, it was the furthest thing from my mind. Celebrating any aspect of life and any kind of holiday was not on my register. “But”, my husband said, “you need to get away”. “It will be different,” he said. What could possibly be different? I just wanted to stay in my kitchen where I had wallowed for months in the grief and despair that comes with sudden, tragic bereavement. I had only so many buts to share with him. I had only so many buts to share with myself.
Suddenly, that same year as losing my brother in a tragic car accident, I was sitting on a plane. Numb but there. I never regretted it. The trip changed my life. It was a turning point and the start of something new.
This small idyllic Italian set of villages perched on the side of a cliff was just what I needed to sit and be with me as I reflected into my new future. A life built around loss.
Life throws curveballs at us out of nowhere. They are coming for us all at some stage, there is no denial. But how we bounce back and create a new pathway for ourselves is pivotal. This trip did it for me. This was no ordinary trip for me.
Cinque Terre is a series of 5 Fishing Villages or as directly translated ‘5 Lands’. The 5 villages each distinctively different from the last consist of – Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore.
I spent my time taking the small train from village to village or walking along the coastline cliffs between them. Vines grew on the sides of the cliff and I felt completely at one with nature. I meandered small streets, sampled the fresh seafood linguine, wonderful wines and local sweet Sciacchetra. But it was the slow rhythm of life that appealed to me most. At one with my slowness and reflective mood, I sat on the rocks and stared out to sea at the fishermen gathering their catch. The simplicity of life.
I managed to catch a September vine harvesting festival and the locals embraced me with smiles and laughter as I joined just watching the festivities. Access to some of the villages was difficult so it really did feel like you were cut off from modern society and escaping from your life if even for a short period of time. It was just what I needed. The walking and hiking from village to village gave me stupendous views from vine-clad hillsides into the deep blue sea with coloured boats dancing on the waves.
On the way home on the plane, I agreed “Yes it was different. Really different”. I felt at one with my soul and reconnected with something inside of me that needed that connection at that time. Something spiritual. Maybe I could manage. Maybe I could even find joy in life again. And so I did. It did not happen overnight but I built a life around loss. That journey was the start of the transformation into that new life I was to create.