Friday, February 9

knowing

With Skye holding my hand I walked down the road to the bus stop. It looked like it might rain. Most of the shops on the way to the piazza were closed, boarded up for the winter. I could hear the bus arriving behind me and pulling her to my side I flattened myself against the wall to let it pass by on the narrow road.

There were still ten minutes until the bus set off for its next ‘giro’ around the town but the bar opposite was also closed so we found a seat inside the bus and waited. A friend’s mother climbed on and made her way to the back of the bus. The French artist in her long colourful smocks and purple Doc Martens smiled and sat down behind me. A local woman with a baby wrapped in a red blanket sat down beside me. The last time I had seen her was in October when she was hugely pregnant. As we waited for the bus to leave I congratulated her and listened, along with everybody else as she shared her birth story to whoever wanted to listen.

She asked me how I was doing. I wondered if she knew about my Mum, and replied that I was doing OK. She asked why Skye wasn’t in school and I told her that I had just got back from England, I’d take her next week. She asked me if I had enjoyed my holiday. I hesitated and said that it hadn’t really been a holiday, I was at home with my family. People on the bus were listening to our conversation and I couldn’t bring myself to say that my Mum had died. I let the conversation die away and looked out the window, listening to Skye chatter away.

We got off the bus at the top of the town and made our way to the fruit and veg shop, a small dank space the size of a bathroom with more produce outside than inside. Skye admired the oranges as I stocked up on garlic, fruit and the bitter Italian broccoli that tastes so good fried with lots of garlic and chilli pepper. We crossed the road and entered the delicatessen to buy milk and pasta. For once there was no queue at the till, even though the doddering old father of the deli owner was there, tapping his fingers against the check-out. Seemingly half blind, he suspiciously checks the price of every item, not trusting the new-fangled barcode reader recently installed. Slowly, slowly he punches numbers into the till and holds each coin that I hand him up close to his eye to check that I have given him the right money.

Then he turned to me and welcomed me back, grabbing my hand and bringing it to his dry lips where he quickly kisses it and thankfully lets it go again. He asks me where I have been. I tell him England. He comments that it has been a long time. Three months, I reply. His son is standing behind him, listening, there is a small queue behind me. I realise that these people do not know. They have no idea that my mother has gone, and I have no idea whether I should tell them.

Here, in Italy when someone dies, posters are put up on noticeboards all around town, so that everybody knows. But, although I live here, not many people know why I have been away for so long. They question me about ‘nice holidays’ and Skye being off school, and, tease me for jetting off for so long, telling me how lucky I am. I find myself nodding mutely in agreement, not wanting to ruin their daydreams of me swanning around London with my news of the most devastating thing that has ever happened to me.

I wish they all knew. It would be so much easier than avoiding their questions and having to explain my absence. But I know already what they would all say, some people have already told me:
“Beh, life is like that…”
“Ehhhh, that’s life…”
“Eehhh, unfortunately these things happen…”

So, I don’t say a thing. I take my shopping in one hand, Skyes hand in the other and together we walk back down the mountain towards home, as the rain begins to fall.

12 comments:

  1. And together we all walk back to that mountain where I will be in may....holding poppy's hand (i hope) and missing mum so much that I dont think any one else will understand.) But together we will get thru this and together we will have enjoyment, and together we will live mum's life onwards.
    And together we will live mum's smile as we are her.....Love Dan xx

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  2. Hi Niki & Dan,
    lm sending you & your loved one's my deepest sympathy and huge hugs.

    My father passed away late 2006 just after l left Positano. Through my grief l have discovered so much about life, myself and others...
    When l cry tears drop from my eye's. When my heart is breaking, it’s my heart that is breaking. My neighbor may offer me her shoulder to cry on and her ears to listen but there is one thing my neighbor can never do... even though she may want to ..and that is take away my pain - A

    Take comfort in the knowledge there are people across the world that are acknowledging how you feel and thinking of you all. A xo

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  3. You don't have to tell others of your pain and loss. Sometimes it's nice just to have a bit a privacy, especially while your still grieving.

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  4. On the other hand, you might be surprised if you opened up and told them what really happened. Since they all seem to care so much, and they are all wondering where you've been and why...

    I understand why you're not telling whereas they would. The Swedish and English cultures are not that different. Here, people wouldn't tell either. However, since you are in fact in Italy where mothers are sacred and death is a part of life... I think only good things would come from telling.

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  5. Beautifully written post. And I think I would go the same route--some things are better processed in private. Keep walking :)

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  6. Niki, there isn't a right or wrong thing to do now. If you didn'ìt tell those people about your mother it is because you felt you did not want to. it is not a
    fault...
    I know it is not the same but when my grandmother passed I didn't want to tell people she had gone 'cause telling it, pronunciating that words caused me such a big grief that I WAS NOT ABLE TO FACE IT, espcially when speaking to people I did not know well.
    I knoe people in Positano....I know sometimes they ask to you things for the pleasure of knowng things not actually to know hou you are feeling or linving this tragedy in your life.
    Niki, go on.....don't mind the others ......
    it is your life, it is your pain. It's very intimate and personal. You are the only one to dicide whether and when tell this thing (and be sure that in five mninutes everybody will be informes...that's positano's grapewine.......)

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  7. Let them be envious of your "exotic" life between here and London...from what I have learned about you, your family and your mom...I wouldn't mess it with these people. Don't take me wrongly, I know exactly what I am talking about.
    When my granpa and grandma died, no posters on the walls, it's terrible. Family, close friends, people who care will know. The rest is useless words, always the same, nonsense everybody religiously repeat to everybody in that particular occasion.

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  8. I'm still thinking of you all.

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  9. hmm.. why not tell them? you may be surprized at the reaction, maybe it will not only be "oh that's life" maybe it'll help you grieve? seems like in positano its the way of life everyone believe they need to know and feel its their duty to help you?
    hugs

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  10. Oh honey, I hope your doing OK. It would be fine to let someone know what your going through. Its OK to rely on those who might be able to offer you support at this time.

    XOXO

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  11. I can understand the feeling of not wanting to share but at the same time feeling sad that nobody knows. A really touching entry. I'm so sorry about your mom once again. Michelle

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  12. I don't even know you, but having lost both my parents.............your comments bring tears to my eyes.

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