What Was Left Behind

I thought I had walked it off, sweated it through, washed it out with liters of water and cold mugs of beer. I thought I had talked about it until there was nothing left to say. And when I thought it was done, when I thought I was done, my walking partner’s true and honest comments caused me to pause…because they stung. She could clearly see what I could not.  Thinking I had left my anger and sadness on the Meseta in Spain when I was taken down to my knees on that hot dusty afternoon.  I was wrong, there was still something of it left in me.  She saw it when I first started to talk, but she did not interrupt, listening intently as I told the stories of what used to be me.  The me before the disease and the me that I had become,  what the medicine did to me, why I started to write.  Then she spoke those burning truthful words that caused me to realize that if I wanted to survive, I needed to change.


Her exact words etched in my heart, the remnants of the carvings then  blew away in the wind, landing somewhere on the Camino. Somewhere among the millions upon millions of words now embedded in the footpath, tread upon by thousands of pilgrims, rising up in the dust of their feet…like the smoke of burning incense from the botefumiero, lifting the burden of sins and  prayers.  The Camino knows the stories, told over and over, none new.


These past weeks have been busy with travels. Metal and rubber hit the pavement instead of the vibram soles of my boots. The scenery flies by, only a  bit of the sky is visible through the oversized windshield of our van.  It’s too fast. I cannot see the wide expanse of the blue sky, or smell the new greeness on the hillside. There are no words left here on the pavement to remind me of the choices I made. I can only recall from the fragments left on my heart.  They aren’t broken, pieces just fell away.


I chose to live well.  That is obvious. But did I choose to love well?  Can I love an old friend enough to let her live well without me interfering in her life? Can I love a new friend well enough that she feels my caring presence beside her when I am miles away? Can the individuals in these groups I speak to see how much I love them when I don’t even  know each of their names? Do the two young men with whom I share a last  name  know how much I love them? Does the man I chose to spend my life with understand this changing love from the point of a disease I did not choose?


Today I had an “ahah” moment.  Because I held some of it in me, because the winds on the Camino did not blow away onto the paths of future pilgrims.


I haven’t loved enough.


Yet I know I haven’t failed, there is still time.


….from an unexpected place this prayer came back to me. Thank you Thank you for reminding me that you are surrounded and protected as well as I am, you who I love.


Christ be with me


Christ before me


Christ behind me


Christ in me


Christ beneath me


Christ above me


Christ on my right


Christ on my left


Christ where I lie


Christ where I sit


Christ in every eye that sees me


Christ in every ear that hears me

the author grants permission for the use of this essay

Carol Clupny

When Carol Clupny was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease at age 50, she took to the road, literally. Walking over 1000 ...more