Here is a photo of Christine Provard and me, toasting our meeting after being blog-friends for over a year. Chris is from Ohio, and she and I have been brought together by our daughters, Sarah & Katie.
Last summer, I wrote about our visit to the Cinque Terre in Italy, where Gregg, David and I hiked among the five towns on a steep and beautiful coastal trail. To visit those towns was part of Christine's dreams, and her daughter Sarah's dreams, just as it was Gregg's and mine.
Three years ago this month, Sarah and her husband, Christopher, made the dreamed-of trip. As Christopher took Sarah's picture (above) in the spot where he himself had just stood so that Sarah could take his picture, a rogue wave came and washed Sarah into the sea. He jumped in to try to save her, but to no avail. Thus began Christine's and Chris' grief journey, just over a month after ours did.
Christine has a beautful faith and a blog, True North, which is how we met. We have had a sympatico feeling ever since.
When Gregg, David and I made our trip to the Cinque Terre, I felt I had to go to the place where Sarah had been, and pray. Though we looked up and down at many places along the trail, we didn't find her plaque; however, we did see Point Bonfiglio.
I stood quietly in remembrance and prayer last July.
Three years ago when Sarah died, the Italian people were so moved by the tragedy, and so kind that they took Christine and Chris deeply into their hearts. They came to their aid in every way, and on the anniversary, a ceremony was held at Point Bonfiglio in Sarah's memory. Christine, her family, and friends gathered - along with many Italian people. A poem was written in Sarah's memory, and it is now a permanent memorial above the point:
The translation of the poem into English is:
"She came from Ohio, to our paradise,
From far away the sea, saw her, smiled at her,
The beloved groom, the Via dell'Amore,
dreams that come true, her heart beat strongly,
The beloved Cinque Terre from school days,
...a white cloud, the halo of a star,
embraced Sarah, and thus she becomes even more beautiful."
Sarah is now part of the legend of the Cinque Terre. While I would prefer that she was a living, breathing young woman for her mother's sake, her widower's sake, and the world's sake, I have no power to make it so. However, her beauty and her story infused my experience there, as it will countless others into the future.
When Chris told me that she was coming to the Pacific Northwest on vacation, I hoped we could meet - and we did. We spent about 3 hours talking, laughing, crying, sharing our girls' stories and our stories, exchanging gifts, eating and drinking a bottle of a favorite red wine. I believe that God and our beautiful girls gave us the gift of meeting and comforting one another.
And when I hugged Chris for the first time in Seattle, I tell you, I felt Sarah's arms, and Katie's arms, around us.