My dog died. How’s that for a reason to neglect a blog all week? Don’t worry, this won’t be a super melancholy post, because this isn’t that sort of blog, and I’m not that kind of writer. But suffering such a huge loss — here, alone — has revealed, in the final days of this trip, a bittersweet layer to traveling. And in the most unexpected way, it has crystallized the total experience for me.

Even as I was blissfully enveloped in a pretty Swedish bubble, I learned that life will keep charging forward — whether I’m paying attention or not. That’s just part of the fine print when you sign up to try a new life for a while. You don’t get to press pause, and you have to know that when you return, things may be different than the way you left them. We gamble that experiences like this will change us — change things for us — and we hope that they will. We hope for change. But we only dare to imagine change for the better, never really factoring a change that might hurt.

I’m not going to sugarcoat it — losing my girl sucks. I’m heart broken. But if I can say anything positive about this at all, it’s that I know that both kinds of change come with the territory of travel, and with growing as a person in general. The truth is, meaningful and life-changing things are always going to include the good, the bad and the ugly. Because only with the latter two can you appreciate all that you’ve gained.