Today was certainly one to immortalize in writing. I finally received my passport from FedEx this afternoon. It was the last thing that I was waiting for before I could get on that plane and leave for Europe. I never imagined that I would be able to see the lovely sights of the oldest and most culture filled cities in the world. We will start our trip in Vienna, Austria. I can’t wait to see St. Stephan’s Cathedral. I really would like to be able to go to mass in the same cathedral where Mozart was married. After a few days in Vienna we head off to Lucerne, Switzerland to take in a few concerts. We will have missed carnival week but we will still be able to see the sights of the old town where Richard Wagner was his most productive. Next on our rail trip we will be going to Venice, Italy to see the famous canal system and all of the beautifully historic buildings surrounding the water. We’ve got a tour guide set up for Venice because there’s just so much to see there and with just a few days allotted to spend there I don’t want to miss anything. Next on our itinerary is Paris, France of course. I can’t be this close to the most talked about city in the world and not visit. We have a Paris Museum Pass set up for us. It lets us skip to the front of the line in over seventy different museums and monuments for a few days in a row. We will definitely use this to our advantage at The Louvre and the Eiffel Tower. Our last stop will be Ireland. We’ve booked the “immersion tour” through an Irish tourist company. We’ll be spending ten days between the cities of Dublin, Galway, Killarney, Bunratty, and Kilkenny. We’ll be able to walk away from our Irish adventure feeling like we really are a part of the amazing country.
I would say that our itinerary is amazing. I just can’t believe that such bad news lead to such good news. I never imagined that getting what I used to think of as a medical death sentence would have felt this freeing. Of course, looking back, I would have changed things in my life. Nothing of any significance though. I would still choose to have gotten married at twenty and divorced at twenty three. It was painful, yes, but it also shaped who I am today. It is in the last of your life that you realize what is important. A. Sachs said “Death is more universal than life; everyone dies but not everyone lives.” I would like to think that every decision and experience I had during my life helped to shape who I am. And if the person I have become from those experiences touches even just one person positively then my life hasn’t been wasted. I could say that I wished I hadn’t spent so much time trying to get pregnant. That it was too disappointing and troubling. But I won’t say that. It brought me closer to my husband in ways that people who haven’t experienced the same struggle would never know. So, yes it was something hard to endure but it made me stronger and for that I would not go back and change it.
Some of the most important experiences I’ve had have also been some of the hardest times in my life. I was married to an abusive alcoholic man for three long years but through that experience I was able to care for the most amazing baby and learn from her as she learned about her new world. The divorce that followed the tragic marriage was also very hard. I lived in a new city with no family near and only had myself to rely on. But I was able to really figure out who I was without such a strong personality looming over me any longer. It wasn’t until that hurdle was over that I was ready to find my best friend and now husband. When we were married it was the hardest time for him with his company in financial distress and we learned and grew together because of it. There is a John Wayne movie that we like to watch together, McLintock. In the movie there is a scene where McLintock is telling his daughter about the hard times he and her mother had when they were first married. Things about living in the wilderness and how they didn’t give up on each other but it made them stronger. He said “Because all the gold in the United States Treasury and all the harp music in heaven can’t equal what happens between a man and a woman, with all that growing together. I can’t explain it any better than that.” I really believe that is true. Tough times will either tear a relationship apart or build it that much stronger. I am lucky enough to have experienced both kinds of outcomes and I am a better person because of it. The Taoists hold a belief that without experiencing the bitter in life you don’t really appreciate the sweet. I have seen this to be true.
Someone asked me today if I could live my life over would my priorities be different. I actually had to think about that question before I answered her. I don’t think that they would be different. I’ve always been close to my family and that is something that people who focus on work or money miss out on. As I’ve grown my family has grown as well. Not just the people that married into the family but the people not related to me that I call my family. My best friends have become an urban family of sorts. I think that the ultimate priority is to surround yourself with people that you love and who love you back, those that you can share a good laugh with despite the situation, and the ones that make you feel happy just to be in their presence.
So, diary, looking back I think that I’ve had a pretty good life. Some hard times to make the good ones stand out. I will really miss some things but I wouldn’t go back and change anything for the world.