This was an important day for me – crucial to my camino.
The Iron Cross is where pilgrims have traditionally left a stone from their homeland or one picked up along their camino. But more recently it has become a place where mementos can be left to celebrate the life of loved ones now departed.
I had prepared two separate items to leave at the cross. One for myself, and one for my partner David.
David’s son Charles died 12 years ago at the age of 28 (before we met). It was a great shock and at the time David felt he had to be strong for his wife and daughter and consequently didn’t allow himself much emotion. In more recent years he has been able to grieve more readily and consequently is more able to focus on the good times that he shared with his beloved son. David chose his favourite photo of Charles to be left at the Iron Cross. I found a beautiful orchid enroute and tied this, with the photo to a stone and placed it at the foot of the cross.
I didn’t have a ribbon to tie around the stone so used what was available – a shoelace. I wanted this to represent all those of us who have lost someone we love. Most especially for my very good friend from Cómpeta who unexpectedly lost her mother whilst I have been walking. Whatever age a child is when they loose their parents, it can be devastating and it takes a long time to come to terms with the loss. And I can only imagine how devastating it must be for a parent to lose a child.
The second item I brought to the Cruz de Ferro was an iris bulb. My parents dug up a clump of irises for me from their garden probably 25 years ago. I have transferred these bulbs to the garden of every house I have lived in since then, which must be at least four properties. Every time they bloom I think of my parents. So I dug up a bulb from the clump that I smuggled in my suitcase from Bristol to Cómpeta five years ago. It was looking a bit bedraggled by the time I pulled it out of my backpack after three weeks, and I found a stick to scratch up some earth and plant it at the edge of the pile of stones at the foot of the Iron Cross.
I would like to return in a few years to see if the iris has grown, which I am confident it will. I don’t feel guilty about importing a foreign species because I have seen irises growing wild here, as they do in the mountains around Cómpeta.
I have been thinking a lot about how lucky I am to have such a great bunch of friends. Thanks to all who have taken the time to post comments and to everyone who is willing us on. I really appreciate it. xxx