Whenever I have had a loss in my family it has hit me hard. I become an emotional mess. I can’t help it, that’s just the way I am wired I suppose. A funny thing happens though. After a while I stop feeling like I lost someone and convince myself that I just have not spoken to them in a while. I refuse to step through the doorway and accept what I am leaving behind. This time was different. I was 12 years old sitting on the steps of my grandparents’ house in Italy with pen and paper in hand getting ready to go back home.
When I was little I recall my parents talking to my grandmother from Italy all the time on the phone. We didn’t see her much because we were so far. Sure I spent some summers with her, but I was always running off to cause some trouble when I was there. I look back and I remember that I would be too busy playing to talk with her on the phone when she called. What a dumb kid I was.
When she got sick my dad left for Italy. I stayed hopeful that the doctors would be able to help her and that I would have another chance to hug her… I never got the chance. When I got the news I remember I cried for a long time. I couldn’t understand why it happened. It hurt for a while. Sure enough the pain subsided and I started to feel like I just had not spoken to her on the phone in a while.
Years passed and we planned a trip to Italy. It was the first time we would be back without my grandmother there. I remember walking into the house and looking around waiting to see her come out of one of the rooms to give us a big hello. Nothing… I walked into every room in the house thinking back on times spent there… it was just quiet. I broke down and cried. She was gone.
When our trip was over and we were getting ready to leave I remember sitting down on the steps and writing a note to my grandmother in Italian (mind you, I can’t write in Italian if my life depended on it). I took the note, folded it up and left it in the house.
When I walked out of the house I finally walked through that doorway that I had been standing in front of since she had passed away. I accepted reality and what had happened and I was at peace with it. It never hurts any less and I don’t think it is possible to close any door once you have walked through the doorway. You can try, but there will always be a mighty wind that will swing it open… and yet, you can’t stand in those doorways your whole life.