“A journey to a place which is considered special and which you visit to show your respect.”—Cambridge Dictionaries Online

And thus my husband, daughter, and I embark on a pilgrimage to the island of St. John.

Obviously, it’s gorgeous. But why is it so special to us?

Because my mother-in-law wanted to retire there.

Sue visited many places in her lifetime, including countless turquoise-dipped beaches. But she said there was just something about this place that soaked into her bones above all others.

We embark on this pilgrimage to witness her special place for ourselves, to pay respect for a part of Sue left undiscovered, and to see if we feel that “something” she spoke of. To see if we feel her.

We booked this house, a sentinel of relaxation standing guard over Hart Bay. Paradise. Eden. Heaven.

The home is called Andante by the Sea referring to “musical direction for a passage, moderately slow and even.” Anyone who knew our musical-loving, beach-basking Sue will recognize the significance of this. And if you didn’t, let me put it this way: peace.

I was surprised to find that Merriam-Webster also defines pilgrimage as “the course of life on earth.” In that sense, Sue’s pilgrimage is done. But even though cancer took her body, her zeal for living continues on, a booming echo in the souls of everyone she touched.

Therefore, we’re called to St. John.

We’ll send Sue off on that retirement she always dreamed of and satisfy our own curiosity in the process. After all, I’m sure that in this fantasy retirement of hers, we were there with her, sharing a sunset cocktail and watching Szaba play on the beach.

It’s our pilgrimage for her, but it’s also our pilgrimage for us. For you see, this marks our first family vacation, surely a gold-star point over the course of our greater life pilgrimage as a family.

So thanks, Sue, for picking such a meaningful and spectacularly beautiful spot to forever be a part of our collective memories. I have a feeling this is one pilgrimage we will eagerly repeat.

Happy retirement.

To be continued next week …

I’ll be guest posting the results of this pilgrimage on The Everywhereist, the brainchild of my incredibly talented, sweet, and witty friend, Geraldine DeRuiter (and coincidentally one of TIME’s Best Bloggers of 2011). I’m truly honored to share her company in the blogosphere … or anywhere for that matter. Thanks for the love, G.

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