A Pilgrim’s Path


I traveled to Italy in May 2018 for a photographers’ retreat. The trip came six months after my mother’s death and would become 10 days of unexpected joy and grief.

How do I explain the magic of this experience? A small group of loving and creative people. A 17th century villa located on the side of a hill in a tiny Italian town. Wildflowers blooming in the fields. The song of swallows returning to their nests. A path worn by centuries of seekers on the Franciscan Way only steps from the front door.

I walked that path each morning, past ancient doorways and gates, climbing ever higher up the mountain and into a forest that ended at an abandoned church at the top. Questions came with me.

What had it meant to my mother to be the matriarch of the family? Was I the matriarch now? What would I do with my days now that she was gone? How had 10 years of caring for her changed me? Did I do enough? Loved her enough? I felt her presence every step of the way.