Saturday, September 13, 2008


So it's been a quiet day and a quiet little evening. Which should make it the best of days and evenings, but it hasn't been. A couple of days ago on Facebook I got up the guts enough to ask a friend about the health of one of the most dynamic and amazing women I've ever known, not just in Italy but anywhere, and I have been walking on beds of nails anticipating the response - because on my trip to Genova four years ago when I saw her last, she was undergoing some serious treatment for cancer, and at that time her husband told me that the prognosis was short.

So this evening I got the message that she succumbed to the disease a few months ago, which meant that she lived longer than I had believed that she would, which makes me very happy for her wonderful family, but still I am mourning. Everything about her made you think of the sun, from her so-very dark, loving-that-time-at-the-beach summer complexion to her jumping eyes that matched perfectly her radiant smile. She was warmth in human form, so full of compassion and joy, and I am sad to note that for now she is gone from us.

So I have been doing quiet things - reading some poetry (That Kind of Sleep by Susan Atefat-Peckham, one of the books I picked up Labor Day weekend at the Freer), not about death, but about a loss of cultural identity that happens in one generation when a family immigrates to another country, and a short story by Italo Calvino, Pesci grossi, pesci piccoli (Big Fish, Little Fish), in which (spoiler ahead) a woman whose heart is broken stops crying after being saved from an octopus that was squeezing her neck with one of its tentacles. Sorry if I ruined that for anyone. Poetically (more spoiler) the man who saved her from the octopus hacked it up and gave it to her to take home and cook for dinner. So I liked that story, because I would like to feast upon the dead remains of the things that trouble me, especially if that meant eating octopus.

How much I would like to float a candle on a little boat out to sea tonight, or let a lighted paper lantern rise into the air. How much I would love to gather in at Genova with all of the people I love there. Someday. Speriamo.

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