I'm home from Italy and processing one of the best weeks of my life. There was beauty everywhere I looked and in every person I met. There was laughter, delicious food, wine, and abundant sunshine lighting up my face. I danced at 7:00 in the morning, saw a firefly for the very first time in my life, swam in a saltwater pool, ate gelato by the cup fulls, survived the winding roads of Tuscany at 70 mph with a driver named Franz, smelled the scent of leather and negotiated with Italians at the many leather markets, made pizza in a 200 year old outdoor pizza oven, learned how to make pasta from scratch, and even gave a speech when talking in front of people is one of my biggest fears. There was joy. Much needed and appreciated joy. Did I mention the laughter? I laughed and laughed and laughed.
The Facebook pictures and comments show the love and the joy. You can see it in every photo of the magical villa we called home, the women that traveled from all over the world to be there, and even the Mediterranean Sea.
But we also "let the snot fly" as our brilliant leader, Jennifer Pastiloff, so perfectly stated. Much of it was mine. I poured my grief out all over the floor, but instead of just glancing at it or pretending it wasn't there, the women at this retreat acknowledged it again and again. And again. They acknowledged it with love and with acceptance. They didn't turn away from it or quickly help me clean it up. No, they let it flow and embraced every tear and every deep breath. Their support, combined with hot and sweaty yoga to super loud music, writing prompts that pulled the truth out from the depths of me, and precious time to simply sit with my grief without any distractions, were incredibly healing for my aching heart.
I would not have been able to do this without the support of my family, my badass hand-holding travel partner/fierce friend Liv Spikes, and manifestor of love: Jennifer Pastiloff. Her support included a partial scholarship from the Aleksander Fund, a fund that will continue to send other grieving mothers to Jen's beautiful retreats.
Every year we try to enact small acts of kindness, or do love in the name of our son Beau, to remember the day he was delivered at the end of July. We call these Beauments. This year, our third year without him, I humbly ask my friends and family to consider donating to the Aleksander Fund. You can read more about it here and find the link to donate. It would be an honor for this year's Beauments to go to this scholarship fund.
Also- while I was there, I received an email asking me to be a contributing writer for Still Standing Magazine, a magazine for those surviving the aftermath of child loss and infertility. I will be writing regularly for them with at least two essays per quarter, possibly more. The timing of this notice was beautifully crafted from the Universe or from Somewhere/Someone and I am deeply humbled. I hope to be able to share some of the wisdom I gained during my week in Italy and to simply tell others grieving the loss of a child: "Me too."
Jen & Me