Today I am turning 33 at noon. This is the first birthday I am alive whilst my beloved aunt is not around anymore. She was the first one who came to visit me when I was born, travelling from France where her and my mum are from, to Italy, my father’s country, where my parents lived when they had me. In fact she was to me more like a mother than anyone else, even more than the one who had me in her own womb. My blog is about though women and hell if she was the toughest one I have ever met. With her physical and spiritual beauty and strength she is the one who inspired me to mature and become the self caring, more balanced and content adult that I am today and I will never ever forget it.
It does not feel real. I still see her everywhere I go, 24/7, on the screen of my train of thoughts, as if she was still only a phone call away… I hear her laughter, her tone of disapproval, her sighs towards the end, under the weight of her illness. I have heard that people that lose an arm or a leg keep on feeling it for a long time as the brain struggles to detach from the idea that that body part is still attached to the rest. It is not easy to come to terms with what seems absolutely impossible to conceive, like a world without sun, air or water, it gives you the impression it is unbelievable you will survive.
The day she passed away I was wearing for the first time a shirt which had belonged to her (I loved the way she dressed and how she matched clothes together). She had given it to my mum a few years back but she never got around to wear it so she gave it to me that week and I don’t know why I decided to wear it precisely that day.
In the exact moment she passed away I was on a boat crossing the channel from St Malo back to England and I had taken a rare moment off from my husband and my kids to sit on my own on the upper deck and enjoy the view, the breeze, the peace, the light, as if I was there with her far away without knowing it, for a crucial moment in life that needs to be accompanied with dignity and silence.
The other day I did the craziest thing ever. On my way home from work I suddenly got off at Westminster texting my hubby to let him know I was not going to return straight home. I had a wonder around the Big Ben and South bank on my own, tears on my cheeks in the middle of the crowd.. I had a ride on the merry go around in Waterloo, walked down Embankment whilst having a bite and entered in the first cinema that had a film starting immediately in Leicester Square (Me and Earl and the dying girl, very cute)… If people ask me what am I doing to grieve my recent loss, the answer is I am making time for myself, even when there does not seem to be any left for me after my overloaded family/work life.
After all, you live only once and that’s what she would have wanted for me. In fact it felt amazing, it was as if a voice was calling me to get off at Westminster, as if God’s plan for me to have lost my aunt now was to realise there is so much to life, not only the duties and responsibilities and that it is OK to have breaks and enjoy yourself..
She had recently said to my mum: I loved life but life didn’t love me (she had a very unlucky existence, quite the opposite to me so far). Today I want to take on board her heritage and continue to love life on her behalf, in every breath I take as every day I wake up is the first day of the rest of my life.
All I know about Paris, she showed me, since I was 7 years old and many other times later on, as she lived in its suburbs for 30 odd years. That is why my husband’s birthday present this year, despite I didn’t believe we could find the time nor the money for it, is a Eurostar ticket to go and ‘visit’ her for a day in the city she loved and cherished for so long. I am going alone, far from the austerity of a romantic weekend or a fun moment amongst friends. I will be going in her memory, just the two of us to get connected through a common love for beauty, beyond the limits of life and death.