I’m in Ecuador right now, making it the 10th country I have visited since I started traveling at 18. I actually stopped for a few years, but when my mom died in 2016, it awoke in me the passion to make sure I do the things I want to do now- so I visited 8 of those 10 countries in just the last 3 years. My mom always talked about wanting to go to Spain but early onset Alzheimer’s disease, a sickness that locks its sufferers in hell and pushes families in trenches of cyclical grieve, had an entirely different plan. The month after she left us, in September 2016, I landed in Spain on the day of her birthday…and I cried. I cried because I felt her presence with me. I felt like she was seeing Spain through my eyes and thereby receiving her wish, but I also wasn’t sure when the next time I would feel that close to my mother again would be. I can still remember the last time I physically held her on August 18th. At the end of the trip I cried again because I realized more than ever that you cannot run away from your problems. No matter the distance between you and it, they travel with you too. I never felt that lesson as heavily as I did then, but the amount of beautiful closeness and closure I feel to and from my mama whenever I travel now is unmatched. Boarding a plane to see the vastness of the earth reminds me how small I am and yet how impactful her time here was at the same time. I want to show her how she raised her little girl to be fearless, unwavering, and adventurous. I want my mom to know that her time wasn’t determined by a horrible disease she did not choose, but by how her love, compassion, and joy will radiate in everything she touched, and will continue to touch as long as I’m here. She lives in my heart, and we live in my travels together.
Te echo de menos, mama.