Sunday, November 04, 2012

Home again...the journey continues

 Pictures from the time away.  This is a picture of me, my sister Marty and my Aunt Barb with the wonderful couple who rented the room to Sarah and Christopher when they stayed in La Spezia while going to the Cinque Terre.  They took such good care of Christopher and us after Sarah died.  We stopped to see them for a short visit on our way to Riomaggiore.  They speak little English, so our visit was sharing some pictures and lots and lots of hugs and tears....love them so.
 Little did we know as we were traveling to Cinque Terre that a landslide had happened on the walk of Love-between Manarola and Riomaggiore, just a few days before we came.  That meant the entire walk between the 5 cities was closed and still is now.  We heard that 4 Australian women (in their 60s) were injured and we think that one died afterwards.  This we found out and saw in the newspaper as we stopped to see the couple above.  At this point, we didn't even know if we would be able to go to Sarah's memorial if the walk was closed.  I know each of us was deeply affected to hear this news and leave there to take the train to Riomaggiore.
 We came to Sarah's memorial plaque area shortly after getting settled.  The walkway was closed right after where her plaque is at Pont Bonfiglio.  There were many people trying to understand what was happening as different signs were posted.  There were many people who had traveled to this land to be able to walk the trails and were having to take trains instead from city to city.  This meant there were alot of people on the trains and even walking around at the place where her memorial was.  We talked and shared with many people about Sarah while we visited each day.  We placed a picture of her last picture on the jar below so people would know what Sarah looked like.  It was a tender moment watching my husband-touch this plaque.  He only met Sarah and Christopher briefly before we left on the first trip.  We were just friends through the Area Vineyard Pastor's association at that time.  He had such tenderness in his heart as he touched the plaque of the "daughter he never got to know". 
 On Sept. 27th-the 5th anniversary of Sarah's death, we brought flowers to put at her memorial.  Our dear friend Paula had gone into the city to buy flowers for her and also her husband's cousin-whose place we rented, put together a beautiful bouquet of flowers that I am carrying from her own garden for us to put in the vase.
 Here is the plaque area with the flowers we brought as well as the glass jar of rocks, sand, feathers and beach treasures I brought and placed behind the jar from Sarah's beach here in Ohio.
 This is at the train station as we got off to go to Sarah's memorial.
 This is a picture of the memorial site where her plaque is located.  It is right between the 2 tall palm trees.
 We were blessed to spend a few hours with Franco, who was the president of the Cinque Terre at his home.  This was the most treasured time to hear his heart about almost losing his own life before a liver transplant and also to hear about the landslide in Vernassa and thinking he lost one of his sons.  He also spoke with deep love to us for knowing each of us after Sarah's death.  He is the one who wrote the poem on her plaque and had the ceremony when we went back in 2008.
 Right across from Sarah's plaque is a large compass on the ground with North pointing directly at Sarah's plaque.  This touches me deeper than words can say-for those of you who know me through my name truenorth78 and the Compelled to True North ministry.  Seeing this for the first time when we went in 2008 touched me so very deeply-more than any words can say.

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 It rained at different times--this is looking up to where her plaque is and where the compass is on the ground.
 These are our 2 dear, dear friends--Paula and Mauro.  She has helped in the most dear ways since meeting her in 2008.  She is my hands in carrying flowers to Sarah's site and checking it for me.  She takes my mother's love there as often as she can.  What a gift to a mom who lives on the other side of the ocean....
So, here I am....a few weeks after getting back.  The return home had me getting sick with Bronchitis, my aunt sick and my little sister getting sick again--almost lost her.  It was a difficult re-entry....We had a powerful trip.  We did finish the cruise we had to leave back in 2007 when Sarah died.  I am still mostly at a loss for words.

I know that it stirred up more than I realized it would and emotions that have been more than difficult to process and understand.  It was like being tramatized all over again, so in some ways, I was caught off guard.  I knew it would be difficult and did my best to prepare, but honestly....it is impossible to know what will be brought back to the surface.  It is hard to have this place of death so very far away...and then to go there and find that many people just still are remembering Sarah so often.  The priest who did the ceremony when we returned told me he has just remembered Sarah the day before in mass...as he knew it was the anniversary....that touched me so deeply.

I am better now that I am realizing and finding words now.  It is just the most awful thing that could happen and it happened in one of the most beautiful places with the most beautiful people...and it just is hard to make it digestable.  Grief is raw again...deep, searing...just awful....the images are fresh again...real again....

I am very glad to have gone---I now have the name of the man who risked his own life from the coastguard to contact to thank for holding her in the rough seas.  He knew if he didn't, we would have lost her body to the sea.  I have a friend I have met since Sarah's death whose son died from a rogue wave in Australia and they never found his body....I think of her as I write these words....

So, the journey now continues...I hope to go back again as it truly is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been.  My sister and I were talking that it is like in Chronicles of Narnia to go there--it is like going through the wardrobe...and then coming back to this world I live in---so very different from there...it is like coming back out of the wardrobe.

I miss that land, that place....every day.  I have a hard time processing that....understanding that she just left life here so very quickly while in a place far, far away....

My mother's heart aches...for me, for Christopher, for her friends...for all of us who lost a treasure that day....

She is well remembered there...and honored by many.  I met tour directors from Germany who knew of the tragedy back in 2007, who tell the story to the groups they bring to this land.

I wish it was different....but it isn't.  That will take some time again to live with that.

6 comments:

GrahamForeverInMyHeart said...

So many people know of your daughter, even people, like me, reading your blog. Your writing keeps a part of Sarah alive (of course, you would give anything to have Sarah and not write this blog).

I've been waiting to read about how the journey went. It sounds quite bittersweet and will give you much to think about for a long time to come.

christine said...

Your words are dear to me. thank you for writing. It took me awhile to find the letters to begin to write. My heart is tender and sore....

GrahamForeverInMyHeart said...

I think our hearts will always be tender and sore. I suspect most people simply won't be able to recognize or understand how this is a loss that will be with us forever, that we won't "heal", we'll just have to integrate the pain and live with it.

Karen said...

I am glad you were able to write this. I was waiting to hear how you would put into words this journey into deep loss. It is so difficult, but somehow it helps to verbalize the pain. In a way for me, the words put it in a silver box, that can be carried in a golden backpack that can be carried on my back, whose weight never leaves but is there with me, which is in some way a comfort. It keeps them here. Your story made me cry and I will forever grieve your loss of such a jewel of a girl. Her memory still shines here and half a world away. A jewel.

karen gerstenberger said...

I can only send you the love in my heart, and give thanks that, though I wasn't able to find her plaque, I have been to that spot, while thinking of you and Sarah. Meeting Paula, however briefly, and walking that trail was a kind of pilgrimage.

We are united in a deep way, by the love and grace of our heavenly Father, and I am thankful that he brought us together!

Robin said...

Chris, tears come to my eyes every time I think of the video of that man grasping Sarah and bringing her body back to land.

Perhaps on another day when you and all around you are healthy we can try that beach walk again.