The washed out wintry light of the early morning sun was just starting to peep over the hedgerows. The road was still damp from the rain that had fallen soft and slow throughout the night. I looked over at my husband, his face deep in concentration as he wrangled our recently acquired left-hand drive camper van around the twists and turns of the Irish country roads. I looked back to check on the dogs and I smiled as I spotted Billie peeping out at me from underneath the table and Zara sitting up on the seat, her head resting on the tiny lip of the window – determined not to miss a thing.
I looked back out onto the road and I smiled some more, this smile warming me from the outside in. We were doing it. We were finally calling time on all the shit luck that had plagued us in recent years. We had already covered the first few miles on an adventure we had planned for months.
We had no idea where we were going. We had no idea what we were doing. We had no clue as to what the future held for us but we were throwing caution to the wind and just going for it anyway. The presenter on the radio announced it was Thanksgiving Day in America and wished everyone a happy thanksgiving day. I smiled again, somehow it seemed appropriate that we were setting off on our journey into the unknown on a day when people celebrate that which they are thankful for. At that point in time I was intensely grateful to be physically putting some distance between me and so much that had happened in the years before.
A few months previously we had sold up everything – our beautiful home, our cars and anything else of value we’d had. We’d paid off the tax man and our debtors, glad to finally be free of crippling debt that had arisen from a business deal that had gone horribly wrong.
However, it wasn’t just our business that we lost in those few years but also the dream of being parents. Our tiny babies lay dead and cold in a grave on a hillside in the west of Ireland. We were emotionally battered and our souls were weary. We needed to step off the merry-go-round of life for a while and take some much needed time out.
And that’s exactly what we did. For the next nine months we trundled along the highways and byways of Europe. We ate all manner of wonderful food and we washed it down with cold beers and fine wines. We walked for miles on golden sands – I don’t think there is an inch of European coastline we missed. We hiked through sun dappled forests and swam in lakes the colour of earth and sky. We gloried in freshly fallen snow and we skied and fell in love with the granite peaks at the heart of Europe which we’d never visited before and at night we warmed ourselves with the heat of a log fire and the local firewater.
We got lost, gloriously lost and yet somehow managed to find our way. We met great characters that enriched our journey beyond measure. Bit by bit we healed and started to feel the joy of life flowing in our veins again. We dared to believe in dreams once more and we even dared to dream.
A year later we found ourselves back in Ireland patiently awaiting the birth of the child we were told we’d never have. From one thanksgiving day to another our lives had changed beyond belief and we had so much to be thankful for. A few weeks later I gave birth to our beautiful baby girl – a precious gift that I will spend the rest of my days being thankful for.
However, on Thanksgiving Day I always remember that wintry morning in Ireland as myself and my husband bumped our way along to the early morning ferry that was to deliver us to Europe and from there to God only knows where. I remember and give thanks for the small bud of hope that still remained somewhere deep within me. Sometimes you’ve got to let go of all you think you know and just go – go with your heart and feed your soul. You’ll be thankful for it more than you can ever know.