How Candles In A Church I Don’t Belong To Help Me Find My Way Home
The answer is Italy.
If you caught last week’s column, Dear Reader, you left me stuck on a mountain top in Oman with a husband who was using frequent flyer miles prowess to get us home.
“How about Milan?” he piped up as he worked his booking voodoo.
He found a beautiful hotel and two first class seats through Dubai into Milan.
For pennies, as he’s apt to do.
“We can tour the city. We can go to Lake Como,” went his unnecessary pitch.
He had me at, “Italy.”
This is how I ended up inside The Duomo.
The mind boggling beautiful 631 year-old cathedral in the middle of Milan.
Once inside, votive candles caught my eye and pulled at my heart.
I dug in my pocket for some coins to put in the donation box.
Better to pay up before I pray up, I figure.
I lit a candle for my mom.
One for the mother of friend, Heidi.
My friend Cater, her mom got one, too.
As did the mother of my friend, Carolyn.
Three dear friends.
We’ve all lost our mothers in the last year.
Not a single one of us is Catholic.
If I broke some huge rule, I apologize.
I had no intention to offend.
I just come from the abundance school of prayer, good thoughts and positive ju-ju.
I don’t think any is wasted.
No matter where you come from.
Or where you’ve gone.
“Darla. You need to light a candle for Darla,” Husband broke into my thoughts.
My heart rose in my throat.
Thinking of my beloved 17-year-old dog who passed at Christmas.
I fell just a step more in love with Husband right at that moment.
In the Duomo.
This man, backlit by flooding sunlight.
The one who wasn’t going to marry me because he wasn’t an animal lover.
Even an animal liker.
He loved me enough to become an animal “tolerator,”
Ultimately, becoming someone who loved that old dog more than he knew possible.
And here he was thinking of Darla when we were considering all the blows to our hearts this pass year.
It felt like forever I waited for him to show up in my life.
I get to have him now.
But not my mom.
Just as my friends don’t have their moms.
I looked back at the burning candles.
My five were just a few in the sea of flames, the rest lit by strangers, reminding me I’m not the only one with loss.
I think we each always have a candle to burn.
Is this fair?
It often it doesn’t seem so.
I think, though, that it’s possible this is by design.
Maybe not for you, Dear Reader.
Maybe every single person you’ve ever loved is alive and in your life right now.
This has not been my experience.
It seems to me, the way this works, a candle is always meant to be burning.
For someone we love.
Someone we miss.
This is heartbreakingly sad.
And, it’s not wrong.
The candle burns,
Warming our hearts,
And our appreciation for the ones who are here right now.
That is the answer.
And that, Dear Reader, is how I found my way home inside a cathedral in Italy.
And if you enjoy this column about love, loss and dogs, you might enjoy my book,