I have always loved the unsignposted roads and paths you can find all over Ireland. I am entirely curious about where the road will lead. One friend often jokes that my favourite roads are those that have a green grass spine running up their middle. My children plead with me not to detour 'just to see where the road might lead.' Many times I have ended up in some unsuspecting farmer's backyard. The road 'less-travelled' is a real place to me, full of memories and experiences that I treasure.
This is a picture of one such road. The picture itself tells many hidden stories. The hat I am wearing is one of the many I knitted after my daughter Hannah died. I knitted through grief and despair until the power of speech returned to me. The walk was a painful one for me as I struggled with mobility problems that have plagued me since a car accident in 2012. The walk is called the Kerry Camino and it is an old pilgrimage path between Tralee and Dingle. After Hannah's death I lost the faith that had sustained me through many trying times and as I struggled physically I also struggled spiritually. I did not know the path, and I did not know if I could complete the journey but I was angry and my anger made me determined.
I could not talk to my fellow pilgrims as I needed every ounce of my energy to keep on walking through the pain. But I just kept putting one foot in front of the other because there was no other way. I had to keep moving. I had been immobile for far too long. And if I did not keep moving I would get stuck in the middle of nowhere. The parallels to my day to day life were astounding me as I walked....
All around me the landscape was beautiful. I was a tiny speck in the scene. This comforted me. If I was so small, then my grief was small too. All around me were symbols and signs of destruction and survival. Old, abandoned stone cottages, modernised farmhouses. Even the path I walked on had borne the heavy steps of those who had survived Penal Laws, An Gorta Mor (the Great Hunger), and the death of loved ones.
I was not alone as I walked. My ancestors had walked this path before me.
I felt held up by my faceless, nameless ancestors.
In the silence, my daughter Hannah felt as near to me as her living, breathing older sister.
I felt something changing inside me, a shifting of my grief and despair, and a wonder at the over-arching Something that I could feel but could not name.
I had begun to return to life.
And now it is time to write it down....