One of the most enjoyable aspects of walking the Camino is that it allows you vast amounts of time to think about stuff. One of the least enjoyable aspects of it is that it allows plenty of time for all the things that you don't want to think about to rise to the surface.
A typical day for me would be to get up around 6, shower, dress and then spend 20 minutes bandaging my poor, bleeding feet. I'd leave around 7 and then walk like a demon for between 20K and 30K with the occasional stop for a cafe con leche or a Kas. I'd arrive at my next stop around one or two, check-in, shower, wash my socks and then I would have nothing to do other than re-read articles in the one copy of the London Review of Books that I had brought with me. It's not quite true to say that I had nothing to do - my other options would be to go for a walk (yeah - right) or go to sleep. Almost every day I chose the latter. After a long nap, I would wake up, get dressed, go out and find something to eat, come back and go to bed.
Sometimes it would be hard to drop off due to the bright sunshine streaming in the window. One night I was woken from a deep sleep by the noise of other guests arriving at the hotel. Quite a lot of people walk in groups which requires them to have loud conversations among themselves in hotel corridors before they can go to their separate rooms. This particular group were French and very animated. They woke me up and I was really cross at how selfish and insensitive they were being. I checked my watch. It was 9.15. As the sun was still shining it took me a moment or two to work out whether it was still the same evening or the next morning.
It may have been because of the all the time I spent on my own and the extra 4 hours sleep I was having every night (and day) but I had the most vivid dreams. Many of them were about my mother and father. One morning I woke up and it took me a few seconds to realise that I had been dreaming and I felt the most acute sense of loss. In my dream I had suddenly realised that while my mother was dead my father was still alive and I could still go home to stay with him. During one of my afternoon naps I dreamt that I was talking to my mother and she was holding herself and laughing and laughing.
I used to wonder when I was young how old people coped with all of their friends and family dying around them. I assumed that they must get used to it. In fact I now think it is the opposite and each loss compounds all the earlier losses.
I miss terribly not having any "home" to go to.
It was the anniversary of my father's death when I was away and I lit a candle for him in a tiny, village church in Galicia. When I arrived in Santiago I went straight to the cathedral where the pilgrims'mass had already started. I thought about how proud he would have been of me that I had completed my 500 mile walk.
Today I am thinking of him as well and all the other people who have loss their fathers.