How to say goodbye to someone you loved and cherished? Someone who touched your life in so many ways that will forever hold a piece of your heart?
Saying goodbye should hold no great secrets to me by now. After all, every 4 to 5 years I change countries and I go through it once more. Time flies and sometimes you feel you barely said hello when it is time again for goodbyes.
Every country is different but it goes mostly like this, you meet nice people, you make friends and for those years you build a circle. When your time comes to an end, your circle adjusts to the changes. Some of those friends will break away and will never be seen or heard of anymore, some will stick within the circle and will be in touch. It is the way things work and I’ve gotten used to it. I usually don’t want to go back to the countries I bid farewell to. Having lived there for years, it would be sad for me to go back as just another visitor. So I avoid it.
This until we went to Mexico. Mexico broke all the well set out rules and expectations. It really got me and my husband off guard and there was nothing to be done but fall in love with it and its beautiful, warm people. Mexico really gets into your skin and there is nothing you can do to prevent it.
But there are two people I hold responsible for this love, Carmen and Luigi! And then all the extended family who have become our family too. They became part of our family circle, one which is unbreakable. I have written extensively about the wonderful Mexican family we found in Mexico but today I have to write about our broken heart after losing Luigi.
Luigi who left us a month short of completing 92. I can only imagine how many lives he touched during his lifetime. His European stock and his Mexican wit and spirit accompanied him through war, earthquakes and the major events of the 20 th century. They also brought him to this century with his incredible joy for life, his unbeatable sense of humor, his love for his wife Carmen and his affection for all those he really cared about.
We only met him 6 years ago, 5 of which we lived next to each other and saw each other often. I wish now we could have had even more moments. The hard thing about death is that you always believe you and all the people you care about and love, will still be there for a long time. And then when someone leaves you, you can’t help thinking could I have done more, could I have been there more? Probably but what is important is that you should be grateful for every moment, every laugh, every kiss, every embrace!
I know that when you are suffering and people try to make you see the positive side of death, you don’t want to hear it. You listen and tell yourself, yes, yes, talking is easy but nobody knows how I really feel. It is true, it is hard to put yourself in other peoples shoes.
I told myself that when I lost my father at 17. When I rode in his funeral car with my mother, I was shocked to look outside and see that the world was still turning. People were still moving, driving, going to work, laughing, eating. I was amazed how time had not stopped when he gave his last breath, how could this be. How unfair and how unfair that he left and we got to stay. Why should we continue and enjoy live when he could no longer do it. For a while I was upset with the world and God but then I started thinking about what he would have wanted for me. About what life had meant for him and how he would have wanted me to grow up and thrive. It may sound like another cliche but it is not.
Now older, I’m no longer surprised the world hasn’t stopped. This time I was the one who stopped and thought about all the wonderful moments we got to spend together with Luigi.
Since my daughter’s birth Luigi and Carmen were there from the first moment, every birthday, every major event. They became real grandparents who also helped to guide her and shape her character. Their love for her and her love for them was always unconditional.
They also became our second parents. Luigi was there to give advice, to comfort us, to party with us, to eat and drink with us. He also shared with us his philosophy of how life should be lived to the fullest, how you should have no regrets and live in the present. Luigi was equally a witty father who would scold us when appropriate. I will never forget how he jokingly would correct my spanish or called me Pinocchio when I pretended I had drunk more wine than I did. In fact he called me Pinocchio a few days before he died, the last time we saw him via Skype.
There are so many more moments, some intimate, talks he had with me and my husband one on one. We keep those preciously hidden in our hearts. For all the precious moments in Mexico, the last time we were together in Europe, here in Austria, is going to stay with me in a very special place in my heart. That someone at 90 years old would come and visit us is already incredible. Luigi was so happy to be here and we were thrilled. We just picked where we had left off, a few months earlier in Mexico. We laughed, joked and just enjoyed each other company like we had before. My daughter was thrilled to have her “Nonnos” back and they were happy to see her growing up so fast, to hear her stories, to jokingly commiserate with her when she complained about us.
When we said goodbye we cried but we promised we would see each other soon in Mexico for my daughter’s birthday. We didn’t make it on time but I will always remember Luigi’s happy face when we made that promise.
This is a different goodbye, one that hurts more and I resent it. You are probably looking down on us and smiling at all the drama and sadness. You much preferred to laugh and be merry. We will try to follow your lead with time. One day we will drink in your honor and we will celebrate life. You can even call me Pinocchio again but only if I don’t finish my glass!