Our trip last week to Italy was truly the trip of a lifetime for us. We have been married for 30 years, and this is only the second trip we have ever taken that did not involve a family visit or a business trip. The first trip was our honeymoon!
There are so many facets to the trip for me that I can hardly begin to name them. Spending time with Richard in a relaxed and fun atmosphere where we explored and discovered a new place was exhilirating and refreshing for us both. That was the primary benefit of the trip, but the other benefits were also great.
My Catholic faith was also refreshed and renewed. To be in Rome, where our faith actually began (after the Lord ascended) was so awesome. I truly understand the history of pilgrimages and why people take them. To stand before the tomb of Blessed John Paul II and pray or gaze upon the works of Michelangeo and Rafael was such a surreal experience. In sharing the experiences with friends and family, I have finally begun to realize the intensity of my experiences.
One of the things that stayed with me throughout the entire trip was what Lauren would have thought about it. She loved all things Italian, and was particularly proud of her Italian heritage on her dad's side. She was all set to study Italian when she got to Ole Miss, but that was not to be.
As is everything else for a grieving parent, life-changing experiences that you have after you lose your child are bittersweet. I like to think that Lauren knows what we are doing and that she knew I really dedicated this trip to her. I hope she knows I was always thinking of how she would react or what she might think of what we saw.
Hopefully, one day I will return to my beloved Italy. It is, to me, the most beautiful place on earth.