June 18 – Home and some answers

I am back home in Chestertown and so glad to be here. I loved my trek, but home is where I need to be. I am tired from my walking labors and jet lag. I look forward to spending some quiet time with John, watching the ospreys and hoping for some hummingbirds. I’ll see Henry and visit with friends this weekend. Despite low energy, I have already made an inventory of garden projects that need my attention in short order. Things sure do grow a lot when you are away for 38 days. It looks as if those projects may have to be done at night, as it’s 92 degrees here at midday and feels like 104 (according to both me and Weather Underground.) I was blessed with cool temps on the Camino, so this heat is a real shock to the system.

Walking 500 miles on the Camino was the longest journey of my life. I travelled through rain, sleet and a little sun and crossed an entire country. I walked alone, made friends and was immersed in a unique international culture. It was a gift to have this time to explore and contemplate.

Many people I met had serious physical pain while walking the Camino. Other than tired feet that found comfort overnight, the Camino caused me no physical pain. But, as most of you know, I brought my pain with me. The loss of Sam and the guilt that I could do nothing to save him were my wounds.

I knew that walking 500 miles would not change the fact that Sam is gone. I just hoped that in some way, by making daily progress toward a goal, focusing my energy, I could find a way to live better and find peace.

So, going back to my questions:

How do I feel about this walk ending?

The first thing that comes to mind is what a relief it was not to have do to my laundry when I arrived in Santiago. After 34 days of wringing and hanging wet clothes (the same set over and over), I was thrilled to pick up a small bag that I had sent to Santiago with fresh clothes and real shampoo. Isn’t it silly, the way the mind can prioritize something as trivial as laundry.

Waking up that morning in Santiago and realizing that I didn’t have to pack up, put my boots on and WALK was a relief. Not because I don’t like walking (I still love it) but just because of the change of pace. Variety is so important in our lives. When I departed on the Camino, it was the newest, most exciting thing I had ever done, but after weeks, it became somewhat routine. There were some mornings on the Camino, particularly, following a difficult day or a bad night, when walking felt like an obligation. Though, after settling into rhythm of walking each morning, it seemed like the right thing to do. The last hour of many days was torture, as painful feet and mental and physical fatigue took over. Sometimes I needed Aretha Franklin and the full gospel choir to keep me going during the last hours of each day, so I put on the headphones and pushed forward. On the Camino you may be in a new place every day, but the routine is similar, walk, eat, sleep, suffer, repeat.

Speaking of eating, I will love trying new food when I travel. We had great meals in San Sebastián and in Santiago. But, on the Camino itself, bland, monotonous and not very healthy were the norm. It was frustrating, but in hindsight, I think the unappealing food served a purpose. Being denied the creature comforts we take for granted (healthy food, clean sheets, dry shoes) is part of the process. The Camino peels life back to the basics. You get just what you need. Rather than finding enjoyment in the quality of the food, you must seek it within yourself and from the company of the new people you meet. There were benefits to that, but I am overjoyed to return to healthy food from the farms of Kent County.

Did I find the answers I was seeking?

I know I will never understand why Sam suffered and died from addiction. So, I came on the Camino hoping to decide for myself what caused his problem, if I contributed to it or if I could have done anything differently to change the outcome. On this trek, I think I have finally talked myself into accepting that it doesn’t matter. There is no benefit to dwelling on the negative. After rolling this around in my mind countless times, I have committed myself to focusing on the good memories of our life together, and there were many. As I have told my friends , “happiness is a choice.” And I have made it.

What will I do differently when I return?


My key takeaway from this trip is the importance of friends. An incredible number of friends have come out to support me on this trip. My friends, John’s friends, Henry’s friends, Sam’s friends, friends I didn’t know I had. The encouragement I received before the trek convinced me that I might be able to do it. The constant expressions of support, as I pushed through day after day, cheered me greatly. The substantial contributions to the CU fund were humbling.

I know that I have often gotten caught up in the responsibilities of life and lost touch with friends. I am grateful to have reconnected with many of you through this journey and am committing myself to not losing those important connections again. Expect to hear from me!


My next promise to myself is not to fall back into the comfort of my old routine. As I have grieved Sam’s death, I have thought it might be helpful to take up some new activities to refocus my mind and energy. This is the crossover point. I’m doing it.

In my Day 17 post, I talked about the appeal of new experiences on the Camino, and I have certainly had those. Going forward, I am committed to keeping it interesting. I may take up: painting, photography, writing, serious yoga, meditation, Bible study…any number of things. (I’m taking suggestions.) I am not saying I’ll like them or be any good at them, but they will be new experiences that will allow me to focus my mind and embrace the wonderful world around me.


This trek has taught me that I am strong enough to offer help to others in recovery. I am dedicating myself to hands-on work with individuals and families suffering from substance use disorders. I couldn’t save Sam, but perhaps I can help others find a better path to recovery.

I have enjoyed writing this blog. Though many nights, I composed in the fog of exhaustion, I am glad I did it. The exercise of writing has helped me organize my thoughts as I traveled and it will jog my fading memory, as I recall the details of this trek in the future. Thanks to all of you for listening.

I’ve got one more post coming. Look for it tomorrow or the next day.

30 thoughts on “June 18 – Home and some answers

  1. John Rodenburg June 18, 2018 at 9:29 pm

    Welcome home!

  2. Barbara Robinson June 18, 2018 at 9:37 pm

    Yes, welcome home Trish.

  3. Hooray to you for the journeys you have made, both inside and out. We look forward to seeing you on the Shore this summer.

  4. You are amazing Trish-
    Keep On/Keep On!
    Love, Tina

  5. God bless you Trish and all that you have shared with us!

  6. Welcome home and thank you so very very much for your eloquent thoughts
    Love to you and John and Henry,

  7. Trish, it was so great to see you today…so thoughtful of you …after walking , travel and jet lag….you are once again amazing…you said into today’s blog that you are open to suggestions for new endeavors…writing is a must..write a book about your journey…I was waiting for your posts everyday and would love a book…if you write it they will read…I will personally have a launch party in Vero for you…can’t wait. Best to you for a wonderful summer.

  8. Really really looking forward to seeing you, Trish.
    Love, Frank

  9. Congratulations Trish and welcome home!! Chuck

  10. What a meaningful conclusion to the Camino. There are bumps in life and someway, we all get through them. It is really tough when it is losing someone so close as Sam. I believe you have the answers and will completely throw yourself into whatever you dean fun and important. As a side issue, i sort of wish you’ll take up water coloring painting. I find it very relaxing if I can spare the time. Take care. Glad you are back.
    Aunt Vee

  11. Patty McGuigan June 18, 2018 at 10:53 pm

    Hello Trish and welcome home 😄 a book in the making as I said before ! I always felt that I was reading a book ! And looked forward to your blog everyday …. loved your “capturing “of your journey and I know you will be able to” help” many others who have also experienced a loss such as you , John and Henry have …. XX Patty and Walter

  12. Welcome home to Chestertown! Your journey has energized all of us and we are so proud of you!
    Here’s to new adventures!

    Anne and Brec

  13. R-E-S-P-E-C-T

  14. Carol and Greg June 18, 2018 at 11:27 pm

    Trish. You could taken some of your photographs and turn them
    Into watercolors or transfer paintings?
    I just passed your travel journal and tribute to your son Sam to Yelena Mendelson who met you at some point! Plan to contribute. I have
    Looked forward to your writing and photographs every day. Thank you
    Many times over. Carol Davis

  15. You have left a mark on our hearts.
    I hope your heart is full as you embrace life with Sam cheering you on.
    Welcome home Trish!!!!
    Love , Punky and Bill

  16. Tears in my eyes as I read this. What a beautiful journey. I will miss reading the updates everyday, but glad you are home safe and found some of the “answers” you were looking for. You should be incredibly proud of yourself. I know Sam would be!

  17. Welcome home! Your focus is amazing. The wisdom you have gained will only continue to grow. I will look forward to connecting on the Eastern Shore. Xo

  18. Welcome back and congratulations Trish! Let’s catch up once you come up for air.

  19. pat callaghan June 19, 2018 at 3:40 am

    Welcome home. Rest your weary feet and thank your enormous heart and strong mind for making it all the way. You are the best.

  20. Thank you. I am so moved by our journey. I have tears in my eyes. I have tears in my heart-there is where I will store memories of the depth of Sam’s mother’s love. M.

  21. Doreen Hansen June 19, 2018 at 8:21 am

    A lovely to start to this Tuesday in England has been to read you are now safely home in the USA.
    Your determination to honour your son Sam and bravely sharing your thoughts I shall long remember.

  22. What an incredible journey! Your narrative and daily experiences were amazing. We love you and are so glad you are back safely. Xxoo

  23. Trish

    So glad you are back safe and sound. What an amazing journey you took. It sounds like you found peace and I am so happy for you. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. Sam might not be here physically but he is spiritually. May you always have that.
    love, Mag

  24. Hi Trish,
    No words can describe how inspirational you are to me. I truly wish you peace and happiness.
    Your friend,
    Peggy Meckel

  25. Trish:

    Congratulations on completing this epic journey.
    I know that you’re glad that it’s over, but the memories will last forever.
    I look forward to seeing you and learning more about the adventures you chased, and and challenges that you overcame during “The Trek.”


  26. What an incredible accomplishment!! Martina and I so loved reading your blog each day. I would, many times, read it as if I was listening to you say it which made it more fun!! I/We look forward to reconnecting. Welcome home!!

  27. Welcome home see you soon

  28. Trish,
    Hope you’ll keep writing! I feel sure you will help others in this format as you’ve certainly helped and inspired me. Peace be with you!

  29. Brandon Berkeley July 5, 2018 at 1:53 pm

    Bravo, Trish! Well done, and welcome home. You are very much in our hearts. I will be praying for you as you keep walking!
    With love,

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