Day twenty-four: Challenges

I knew today would be another challenging day. Up another mountain, 18 miles of walking. As I got to the top of the mountain and began the real ascent of the day, rain began to come down and the wind was whipping. But it was a beautiful day, as I said good bye to Villafranca over the mountains and saw breathtaking scenery. Arrived in O’Cebreiro with the mist surrounding me. Couldn’t really make out what the town looked like or where I was. Found my room for the night. No wifi! None in the town except for one hotel — with a bar and restaurant. So I HAD to have a drink of wine while I let my family know I was safe for the night. Back to my room amid wilder weather, with fierce winds and an even more impenetrable fog. A good night to sit by a fire with a book. I’ll settle for my iPad and a book on Kindle…

As I set out to face my challenging day, I was given some stark reminders that my challenges are nothing. I learned just the day before that a wonderful, healthy, strong, active, positive and fun friend has just been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Her strength and health will get her through this, but I am heartbroken that she has the challenge of facing chemo and all that such a diagnosis brings. Another friend told me that same day that her sister in law was hit by a semi and died, leaving a husband and daughter still grieving the loss of another daughter who died ten years before. My friend is considering leaving her new business she worked so hard to build to be with her family. Other friends have faced surgeries, lost parents, see children who are struggling, marriages that are ending. And there are people I will never know who face challenges. Refugees walking more miles each day than I do without any warm, friendly support and the promise of a bed and a meal that I take for granted. Firefighters, police officers, nurses, doctors, all bravely facing trauma every day. I thought of all of them yesterday. The real brave ones who face challenges they did not ask to face. I am not one of them. I just decided to go for a long walk. Here’s to the really courageous. My thoughts and prayers were with you today.