I am writing from Rome, Italy. Had you asked me if I would be doing this even just weeks ago I would probably have laughed and explained that while a trip with Cate was certainly on the radar I couldn’t have imagined it this fall. For some time we have been commiserating as a family about how to mark Cate’s “coming of age” or in other words, becoming a teenager. Not long ago we attended a beautiful bat mitzvah that strengthened our resolve to somehow celebrate this milestone. Together we decided that a mother/daughter trip to a location chosen by Cate would be our special event.

Since September I have been fairly quiet here, in part because life got even more full than my already full norm. I sort of put my head down, wrote a handful of grant proposals, spent a lot of time with The Dale community, did a funeral, went on hospital visits, helped get Cate back into school, choir and dance routine, enjoyed Thanksgiving and tried to stay on top the administration of both my work and home. In the midst of all this we managed to find the money and a window of opportunity for Rome, a reality I’m still pinching myself about.

I think if the only thing I got to do on this trip was watch Cate’s face upon her first glimpse of the Colosseum it would be worth it. Seeing this place through two sets of eyes is a wondrous treat. We are surrounded by history. Yesterday we went to Pompeii and walked where others did until their city was covered by volcanic ash and forgotten in 79 AD. We are being reminded of the beauty and brutality of the Romans. We are also enjoying modern Rome: getting around on its transit system, eating amazing food and seeing where the old meets the new.

I am so proud of Cate and the young woman she is. Cate is mature beyond her years and yet not in a rush to be older than she is. She notices things: the detail in an ancient mosaic, the person sleeping in a doorway, the aroma of a bakery. She also seems to know this is an experience that not every thirteen year-old will have and is doing what she can to not take it for granted. She is eagerly writing about everything in her journal and excited to share it with Dion upon our return. We will only be here for a little over a week, but I know this is an experience we will never forget.

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