I arrived to Pedrouzo after a hot and sunny walk. This Irish girl has her freckles back after today. I stood at the sink in a cafe bathroom and looked in the mirror. ‘Hello old friends.’ It made me smile. My grandpa used to say I had the map of Ireland all over my face.
This time tomorrow I will be in Santiago. It hardly seems possible. A friend of mine from Seattle messaged me. ‘What’s that trail you walked that time? How long does it take?’ You can tell that not all my friends are fans of reading the blog, nor all my musings. But I sent her the link and told her she could read the past 40 days and it would give her a good feel for it, since I am about to finish it again.
And then I took my own advice and went back to the the beginning of this little trek. Let the tears begin. I had forgotten some of what’s gone on. The people and the views. The weather and some lonely days. And laughing, a lot.
I am the slowest of my group. The last to walk in to Santiago. Reunions in the square in front of the Cathedral are not in the cards for me. Unlike last time. But looking back through the blog reminded me of their encouragement and their care. I sat over lunch using my napkin to wipe my eyes.
I know tomorrow will be an emotional day for me. The slowest Peregrino ever, finally made it to Santiago. But the tears will be tears of joy.
I was recently invited on a podcast while I was walking. The host asked me how I found a way to get back up and keep going in that first week, when I would find myself on my knees. The answer was simple.
‘I had one person who asked me why I was torturing myself. ‘Just quit this.’ But that’s not the time you quit. That’s the time when you dig as deep as you can go. And you find the strength to get up and gather yourself, adjust your pack, wipe your tears, grip your poles, and put your head down and move forward. P.S. It works in the rest of life, too.’
Reading the entire journey made me realize that we never really know how anything will turn out. We just have to begin and take the first step. One day at a time. And, much like so many moments in life and on the trail, the best views are behind you. But you have to take a moment to stop and turn around to appreciate just how far you’ve come.
So many people helped me on this journey. I have a list to remember them in the Cathedral after I arrive. I wouldn’t be here without them or the lessons they taught me. But the biggest lesson of this whole trip is one drilled in to me on cold mornings when I was walking alone in the dark. And it’s one I won’t soon forget. When there is no light and the road ahead feels uncertain, all you have to do is stop and turn around, to see the sunrise.