At this very moment, I should be on a plane to Italy.
My friend Katie Tallo (of Momentum Gathering) and I have planned this trip for six months. We were going to stay first at our friend Diana Baur's amazing bed and breakfast in Acqui Terme in Northern Italy. Then we were going to spend a few days on Lake Como near the border of Italy and Switzerland.
Needless to say, we were beyond excited. Both of us had our luggage packed, flights booked, car rented, accommodations arranged. Loose ends had been tied up at home and at work, someone was scheduled to pick up the mail, and my ride to the airport was set.
Then the unexpected happened.
Yesterday morning, the day before we are supposed to fly away, my teenage son became quite ill. (Nothing life-threatening, and he's OK.) We were at the doctor's office most of yesterday and had to spend some time at the hospital yesterday afternoon and evening.
By midday yesterday, I was in a muddle of worry about him, angst about what this would do to dear Katie, my traveling companion, and confusion about whether or not the situation merited my staying or going.
As women often do in these situations, I phoned a friend. I called my best friend Jeanne who knows me so well and who will speak her mind with love. I asked her what to do. She took a deep breath and said this: “Italy will always be there. Your son needs you right now and you should stay.”
Sometimes when you've had a bold dream, you've chased it, and made it happen, the idea of anything disrupting that dream is hard to fathom. In the midst of all of the upheaval yesterday, I just couldn't grasp that Italy was evaporating in front of my eyes.
I needed someone I trusted to blow the cold air of reality in my face. I needed to be reminded that real life sometimes must trump your dreams.
This morning I awakened early to prepare for a doctor's appointment with my son. My full suitcase was gaping open in front of me, everything neatly folded and packed away. A wave of disappointment and sadness washed over me. I wasn't going. Katie wasn't going. We have to let Italy go this week.
On the way home from the doctor's appointment, my son turned to me and said, “Mom, I'm so sorry about messing up your trip.” Without hesitating to think, I responded, “There is no place in the world I'd rather be than with you right now. I can go to Italy any time.”
The expression on his face was worth a thousand trips to Italy. I will never forget that moment and his look of love and relief, and perhaps it will remain in his primordial teenage brain as well.
Sometimes real life can trump your dreams, and sometimes it can provide you a gift far greater than any dream you can imagine. Italy will always be there . . .