Story submitted by traveller Brittini
No guidance, meeting people along the way, and making last minute decisions was part of the lifestyle and I loved the uncertainty!
I found myself in the mystic mountains of Boquete, volunteering at Refugio de Rio, a magical hostel that sat on the banks of the river. One evening, while frying chicken in our common use kitchen, she walked through inhaling deeply and commenting on how delicious my food smelled. She was stylish with an unfamiliar accent, which I soon learned was Australian.
Her name is Susanna and I had no idea how much of a positive impact she would make on me and my life. We spent the next weeks growing and learning more about each other, inside jokes already being formed, laughing uncontrollably at the silliest moments, even convincing a Panamanian police officer to give us a joy ride on his motorcycle! I had plans to travel to Bocas del Toro, to meet with another friend but decided to wait for Susanna to finish her Spanish courses. A few weeks later, we landed on the small Caribbean island that held a future that neither of us had ever imagined.
While traveling, and as a self proclaimed hopeless romantic, I occasionally wondered when I would find "the one" as many girls do. We see it often in movies, TV shows, books, and plastered all over social media. I even had been reading the book Eat Pray Love while on my self-discovery journey. But interestingly enough, I never did get to the LOVE part of the book. I met a Swedish boy and our encounter fizzled before it truly even developed which left me feeling hurt and discouraged. But with Susanna by my side with an open ear, she allowed me to talk, cry, and let my guard down in a way I never felt comfortable doing before.
I started to really reflect on myself as a person, realizing the limited beliefs I had been conditioned to believe. This self-doubt, experiences of betrayal, and lack of confidence was the root cause to my failing relationships, platonically and romantically. Susanna and I would find ourselves on a beautiful and hot beach, sipping margaritas and discussing our childhoods, deepest fears, dreams, and desires. We would uplift and root each other on and as Maya Angelou once said, " …do so with passion, some compassion, some humor and some style." I learned to communicate with her and speak my truths with the assurance that she would stand by me no matter what. Truly kind and sweet Susanna found herself as one of my new best friends.
Months turned into years and our respect and love for one another grew deeply. I gave birth to my first child, a little boy, and Susanna was there ready to shower him with love unconditionally. And as life happens, change came to me again, as my son's father and I decided it would be better to go our separate way and co-parent our child. Truly terrified to be a single mother, Sus, as she's affectionately called, encouraged me to find a new beginning. I doubted myself, but her words echoed in my heart, " you are something special Brittini, you are worth it."
I began to rebuild and reinvent my life. Now living and raising my son in Costa Rica, making new friends and involving myself in our new community, life didn’t seem so scary after all. And then, the unthinkable happened: tragedy struck, my beautiful 3 year old lost his life in a tragic accident.
How do you find the words? How do you breathe when you've lost your heart? I was 29 years young, abruptly thrown from my life, all my hopes and dreams, a future I no longer could anticipate, was snatched from me. I was empty. But Susanna threw her arms around me, never leaving my side, reaffirming her love and dedication in my life, and though we both had nothing to give, she summoned the little bit of strength she had and poured it into me. It was clear, this was no ordinary friendship. She was an angel thrown in my path to shine her light into my life. True love looks different to each human being. My soulmate happens to be my best friend.
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