I was sitting at my desk last night…a night that just happened to be my birthday. I’d just gotten back from my dream trip and I remembered that I shared my birthday with my Papa, the main reason for my trip to Ireland in the first place. I wasn’t in Ireland anymore, but my mind and my heart certainly still were and it seemed so fitting in remembrance of him on a special day that we both shared.
The best part of the trip was the Irish people by far. They embodied everything my Papa did: warmth, laughter and genuine vibrancy and caring. A place where you walk into any store, pub, hotel and are greeted with a warm smile and a friendly “hello.” For the short time I knew him, my Papa always made me feel that way too so I was able to see where that was rooted by going to the land of his ancestry. I’m filled with such pride just thinking about it. That I’m related to such a wonderful group of people. That part of me came from that land.
I navigated some interesting steps, I definitely exerted myself physically but I never fell. I had a brief moment of feeling uncomfortable about my disability and got frustrated in the middle of a very swanky store in Dublin but was able to shake it off with the help of my mom and some great advice a friend had shared with me this year. I met some great people on our tour. People I was actually quite sad to leave. We saw some amazing places and were unable to see others due to the thick Irish fog. We visited plenty of pubs, drank plenty of wine (and Guinness of course). It was in O’Donaghue’s pub that I discovered my love of Bulmer’s Cider (and of an adorable bartender named Patrick). But most importantly, we made some fantastic memories and visited a place we had both been trying to get to for so long.
I’ve never wanted to not leave a place so badly. As I type this, my heart literally still aches a little because I’m not there. I woke up this morning and thought I was still at the hotel in Dublin and when I realized I wasn’t, it was quite sad. It’s always interesting when you’ve wanted something for so long and obstacles kept popping up along the way, preventing it from happening. Then it finally does happen and it’s complete ecstasy. But then it ends and you can’t help feeling a little bit like, “now what?”
But I know with certainty that it’s a place I will visit again. There’s still so much to see, so many other small towns to meet friendly art gallery owners in, more pubs to visit, more beautiful landscapes to see. Thank you Ireland for being all that I hoped for and more. Thank you for showing me part of who I am and more importantly, who I can be and thank you for showing me more of who my Papa was.