The bells of St. Peter’s were ringing unlike anything I’ve heard as we entered the square and waited in the security line to enter the Basilica. As it turned out, we had arrived just in time for 5:00 mass. A large wooden barricade was blocking off the front area of the church for the service and as we stood and watched a few people entered, but most were turned away. Those of you who know me won’t find this surprising but I turned to Alan and said “I think I’ll just go up and ask…”
So I approached the guard and asked if you needed a ticket and he replied “You need only have the will to participate.” That’s how we went to mass at St. Peter’s Basilica. The service was all in Latin and there was a beautiful choir and several cardinals in attendance. It was very emotional being in such a sacred space where St. Peter was martyred and buried, in a building stretching higher than you can imagine. I kept thinking, if man can accomplish this in the name of God, then God can do anything. We accepted communion and gazed up to see the sun blazing through the alabaster window of a dove symbolizing the Holy Spirit, above St. Peter’s chair. It was magical. The guards held the crowds back as about one hundred people milled around the front of the church after mass. It was like having St. Peter’s all to ourselves.
Alan had been frustrated by the afternoon. Upon checking into our hotel we headed straight to the metro station to buy one week passes and make our way to the Basilica. First the ticket machine malfunctioned and kept our money, no ticket. The metro official didn’t care; they were dealing with two other Americans who had just been robbed. After we straightened it out (sort of) we headed to wait for the train. Then we realized we didn’t bring the tickets for the Vatican Museum. I grabbed a table for lunch while Alan trudged back to the hotel. For some reason it didn’t bother me. I kept thinking this is happening for a reason. I’ve traveled abroad quite a bit more than he has though, so I expect bumps along the way. It’s part of the adventure to me when you can’t figure out how to flush the toilet or end up in the wrong direction because you don’t speak the language. Alan was very frustrated though. This was his first trip to Rome and we had come on a business trip. So while I’d seen some of the sites more than once, he’d been in conference rooms and this was his first chance to explore. After lunch it all worked out just in time for us to go to mass, like we were supposed to be there. We had many things encouraging us on the trip, timed right after my brother’s wedding, while two of our kids were at camp. I was nervous, but my oncologist didn’t discourage me, instead he said, “You gotta go!”
We were blessed to go for a week and have some time together. We saw most of the sites we wanted to see, ate some wonderful food, and picked up a little Italian. However there is no vacation from cancer. Everywhere I went I took all my medications with me – most are prescription and I worried about not having them. My hair is still falling like leaves off an oak tree. One evening I was getting ready for a very nice dinner during Alan’s conference, standing in the bathroom holding handfuls of hair, trying to do something, anything, with it. Alan gets a text and announces “Pete’s wife wants to know if you’ll wear pants, she’s decided she will NOT wear a dress no matter what, and hopes you’ll join her.” My reply, although I doubt he sent it was “Tell Pete’s wife I don’t give a *** about her dress, my hair is falling out.” My eyebrows are almost gone which looks a little creepy, no matter where you are. I rested a lot but it is difficult for me to accept my limitations. I’d think, Lord, I’m only 42, it’s just not fair. However we easily could’ve stayed home, scared about what would happen, and missed many special moments. We were blessed by Benedict XVI when he came out to speak to the crowd on Sunday. We toured the Vatican Museums where we were lucky to have a night time ticket allowing us to meander through, take our time, and linger in the Sistine Chapel without the crushing crowds. We saw the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Roman Forum, Basilica of St. Cecilia, and more and said lots of prayers in many holy places. It was the trip of a lifetime with my best friend. When I was exhausted, overheated, ill or sunburned (yep, it happened) we had “what were we thinking?” moments. But it all worked out. I remember having those same thoughts after the birth of our first child “What WERE we thinking?” That didn’t stop us then either. We had two more. I will say there is no place like the USA as far as air conditioning.
Please say a prayer for me as I go for scans on June 25th and results on June 26th. We pray that the Zelboraf is working and that it continues to work for a long, long, time. I will let you know.