My aunt passed away, my father’s sister died of cancer last Monday. The funeral was held today. (I never know if it is burial or funeral…)
The following post is about me, not about memories or any such but about me and my feelings and emotions today. If that is too self-centered, don’t read on. I just felt the need to point that out.
When I was a child, before my parents got a divorce (I was barely 10 when their divorce was final), as a child, I spent a lot of time at my aunt’s house. Almost every Sunday we spent there and some vacations too. (notably when my mom was in hospital – but I had no idea about that back then…)
I did not speak any Italian as a kid, but I notice more and more that the time spent with the Italian family taught me the language. To this day, I understand most of what is said, if not spoken too fast. The language barrier was quite significant when I was a kid, but she learned Luxembourgish somehow (I guess it was because of her kids), and it got easier.
There are a couple of things I remember about my Zia Maria. Her laugh and the way she smiled. Often a bit mischievous. Playing Bingo at her house. To this day, I love playing Bingo. Eating peanuts after lunch.
After a Sunday lunch, the table would be cleared, and entire peanuts (in their shell) would be spread on the table. Along, there was coffee and espresso and limoncello. As a kid, I did not have coffee or limoncello, but I remember the ritual.
I avoid funerals; we all do, I think. But Zia’s passing triggered something inside, and there was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to be there to pay my respect and say goodbye.
And so, I went there. All alone. I don’t like going to these things alone; there is no security blanket when you are alone. I did it anyway. I am a grown woman; I am capable of doing things like this…
When I arrived at the cemetery, many people were there. I spotted a cousin I hadn’t seen in 15 years and recognised my godmother, uncles, and cousins. I kissed and hugged them all tightly. And it felt good. Right. Even without having seen some of them in many, many years.
I spotted my dad and went to greet him. He had no idea I would be there and broke down when I hugged him. My sister had informed me about the loss he was feeling, and she also told me about the funeral. Due to work, I was not sure I would be there, and she did not tell our dad that there was a possibility of me showing up. I could tell that he was happy to see me, relieved that we (my sister, her mom, me, and him) were a unit. We were there to support each other. I made sure to give him many hugs because I felt that he needed it, and he did. “Mia figlia” (my daughter) he introduced me to everyone. My beautiful daughter he kept saying.
I said my condolences to my cousins who just lost their mom, and here too, there were hugs and crying and consolation. Keep in mind, I have not seen most of them in 15 years!
It was a very intense, emotional afternoon.
When I sat in my car to drive home, I sent a voice message to my older sister – she lives in Germany and couldn’t come (she never comes to Luxembourg, but that’s a different topic). I told her what happened, who was there, and how people reacted. And I also told her that today felt like coming home. It felt like being somewhere I fit in. There was such a welcoming warmth in every hug and every kiss, and every year today, it was overwhelming. I never felt anything like this.
It was a funeral, but I felt like coming home. And that was exactly what Zia would have wanted. She always wanted her family around her. She wanted everyone to get along, and there was no problem that couldn’t be solved with freshly brewed coffee or homemade limoncello.
I was surprised by the intensity of my own feelings today, but I am grateful that they exist. I was tempted to make up excuses not to be there today, and I would not have been missed. But I was there, and it was appreciated. And I learnt a lot about family today.
This afternoon, I came home. I am not sure where I will be living and how long I can stay, but tonight I am.
Is it very weird to have such a positive feeling after such a sad day?
RIP Zia Maria. Your smile and the sound of your laughter will always be with me. ❤️💜❤️💜❤️