I love a good memoir, and while I have no immediate plans to hike the Camino de Santiago, this story of brotherhood and ultimate friendship was un-put-down-able.
Patrick and Justin are more than friends. They’re like brothers. They grew up together and had adventures together throughout their childhood. They maintained their friendship through college (they attended different ones) and after marriage, involving their families in each other’s lives.
When Justin was diagnosed with a progressive neuromuscular disease that eventually left him unable to use his arms and legs, Patrick was with him in a support role at each stage of the disease.
After watching a travel program on television, Justin told Patrick he wanted to travel the Camino de Santiago–a famous pilgrimage hike in northern Spain. Patrick’s response?
“I’ll push you.”
Over six weeks and 500 miles, he did just that, but he didn’t do it alone. Their story of brotherhood, prepping for the trip, and traveling the Camino became the book of the same phrase Patrick uttered: I’ll Push You. (Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the publisher. Review reflects my honest personal opinion.)
The story left me in awe of their relationship and I cried many tears as they recounted the ways people stepped in to help them accomplish what seemed impossible. It also reflects a relationship we don’t hear much about: an intimate friendship between men. While they are hiking, Patrick has to take care of all of Justin’s needs, and because of their friendship, it is a beautiful, humbling picture of serving one another.
In reflecting on their journey, Patrick and Justin paint no rosy pictures. They are honest about their struggles, doubts and fears. And their decisions to keep on believing, living and choosing each other are an encouragement to those who have difficulties and those whose loved ones are facing trials.
Side note: A film crew accompanied them on their journey, and I’ll Push You is a documentary releasing this fall. Check out the trailer here (grab some tissues first) and then read all about it in book form.