How a trip to Scotland helped me overcome the anger of my mom’s passing

Posted on 15. May, 2018 by in Scotland trip

Justin Berry and I.

By Zach Catalano —

I am a junior at the Lighthouse Christian Academy, and this is my life story and my experience in the U.K.

I was born in Northridge, CA. I have six siblings (four sisters and one brother) and one nephew. I play guitar, and I am a Christian. From the time I was born until age five, my family were “pioneered” churches (meaning that my dad launched startup churches and our family helped him under the tutelage of the Lighthouse Church). This lasted until the birth of my youngest sister, Hope, and we were involved in church works in Oxnard, Northridge and Stoner Park. Everything felt like a typical life: big family, good parents, nice house. Everything was going ok.

Then my mom died. Debbie Catalano had been diagnosed with a Glioblastoma Multiforme brain tumor in late 2009. Doctors said she only had a few months to live; she lived for another 2 years — long enough to see her first grandchild, Ryker, enter this world. Then, she left to go be with Jesus. How did this affect me? Like any other 10-year-old who lost his mother; I felt like my whole world had just fallen apart.

Over the next few years, I got angrier with life, wishing, hoping that she never passed. And there are some elements that I still live with in my everyday life. I felt that no one else could even begin to fathom my pain… That is, until I got into the Lighthouse Christian Academy, my high school.

When I was a freshmen, I just wanted to be like everyone else — not really giving much care for my own well-being or whatever — and I ended up going to summer school because of it. I wasn’t discouraged because I made some good friends that I still talk to even today. Up came sophomore year, and I mostly kept to myself, thinking that it was my worst year, although looking back, it really wasn’t bad. I had learned to play the guitar, which I still play even to this day. I also rededicated my life to Jesus and had gone on multiple outreaches with some members of my church, into which I am getting back as well.

How does this tie into my experience in the United Kingdom? Well, going into my junior year, I still had the same mentality from my sophomore year, thinking that every day is just another day. But God had a different plan for me.

About a little more than a month ago, I told my dad that I wanted to go on the high school’s England-Scotland trip this year. As usually, he wasn’t sure how he was going to be able to pay for it, due to different financial factors. Thankfully, because of God and a few members of the church, I went on the trip. It was the best trip I’ve ever been on. I mean, not only was it the first time I’d been to the U.K., but it was also the first time I’d been out of the country.

I got to meet many people. I visited many historical sites, such as Westminster Abbey, the opera in London, the steam engine in Scotland, Iona Abbey, and various other landmarks with historicity spanning over the course of centuries. While there are some moments I wish didn’t happen, like any human would, I wouldn’t take the memories built, the friendships made/rekindled, or the experience, for anything.

While we were there, my phone service didn’t work, which left me disconnected from social media and my family. This made me get closer to the people who had gone on the trip. One of those included Parker Neos, who loved the trip and went to honor his grandfather who had passed a while ago.

“This is the closest I’m gonna get to Ireland,” Parker said. His father had told him, “Son, there’s one thing that you’ll love more than anything. It’s not the food, not the sites, but the accents.” From what I can tell, Parker enjoyed them very much. He was impersonating different accents a majority of the time.

We spent a week in England and another in Scotland. England was full of many sites to see and was a very nice place to be, what with all the historicity behind it. However, it was a little too much like home in Los Angeles, and not just because of all the cigarettes on the ground, but whether our tour guides planned it like that or not, well, that’s a tale for another day.

However, when we got to Scotland, it felt very freeing, in a sense; it had an adventurous vibe to it, with the countryside and the sheep and the all that it entailed. I remember on our first day we went on a hike after unpacking in some youth hostel. I love to hike, so this made the experience all the better. While we were hiking, our trip guide, Ronnie Wilkie, decided to take a shortcut, thinking that because he’d hiked the trail before, he’d know where to go, right?

WRONG! We got lost, taking the long way back home. Despite that, I felt it made those who went become that much closer because it essentially was a grand adventure. In short, I loved the trip, I loved the people I went with and got to meet, and I loved how much God opened my eyes during that time.

Despite my not-so-habitual work ethic, I’m still learning more about myself every single day and I am getting better with every step I take. I am thankful for my family, my friends, and, most importantly, Jesus, for bringing me to this point in my life. I may miss my mom, but because of her passing, I have built a bond with my family stronger than before, a bond that I wouldn’t have if she were alive. While I may have many milestones I must push through and succeed, I am prepared to take them on. As Jesus says in Luke 10:27, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”

If you want to read more about our Scotland trip, my friend Justin wrote about our adventures, including our swim in the freezing cold North Sea.

 

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