CW: this post mentions suicide
During our March to Santiago, 150 Days of Hope and Healing, we have heard from many of you. Your stories of courage, hope and eventually healing continue to encourage and inspire us. Marsha is one of these Pilgrims.
I am Marsha Bergen and I live in Coombs, British Columbia on Vancouver Island. I was born in The Netherlands and came to Canada as a young adult in 1968. I am now 72 years old. I have two sons from my first marriage: Oscar, born in 1971, died at the age of 44 in June 2016. And Philip, born in 1975 and died at the age of 36 in December 2011. Both sons died by suicide.
About 8 months after the death of Philip, my sister in Ontario invited me to walk The Bruce Trail with her in that province. We hiked 250 km’s together that summer of 2012 and I discovered how healing it was to lace up hiking boots every day and walk, rain or shine.
About a year after Oscar died I remembered him saying sometime after his brother had died: “I have not cycled across Canada yet”. That was the inspiration for me to start a virtual cycling trip across Canada. I have been working on this now for 4 years and I have plotted all my cycled kms on the map of Canada. Currently I am in the Province of Quebec, cycling towards New Brunswick. I expect to complete this virtual cycling trip by arriving in St. John Newfoundland at the end of 2022.
So when I learned about the Virtual Camino trip I thought it to be just right for me. I started in February 20, 2021. I love logging my kms and get rewarded by beautiful pictures along the way. At the beginning of this year of 2021 I started a daily meditation routine. Something I had learned about before and practiced for some time, but then stopped doing it for some reason. But this time I have consistently meditated every morning for 3 months now. I find it to be a perfect fit with the Camino walk.
I have been involved with an organization called ‘The Compassionate Friends’, which is a support group for parents who have lost a child at any age, and for any reason. Over the years I have become the Chapter Leader of our local Compassionate Friends Chapter in the town close by called Qualicum Beach.
Every day I think of my two boys and I feel their encouragement for me as I cope with these incredible tragedies in my life. Somehow I have to carry on and live my life. Thanks to these physical activities I feel I can.
Growing up in The Netherlands my main means of transportation was always cycling. So physical exercise is an important part of our lives in my country of origin. Walking is also a very big part of my life and I have taken several trips with my husband Ron which involved hiking our West Coast Trail of Vancouver Island and hiking in our mountains.
I am so thankful the opportunity to do this Virtual walk came my way and I want to thank everyone who came up with the idea and then made it into a reality.