In my deepest sorrow, the darkest moments I have ever lived, I turn to the coping method that has always worked best for me since I was a young girl: writing.
Yesterday morning my alarm went off at 6:45. I felt quite at peace and serene, and realized that my children had all slept in their beds all night. So I took an extra moment to savor the feeling of a good-night’s rest. Then oddly my doorbell rang. I saw that it was 7:00. Since I was alone in the house I decided not to answer, thinking it might just be some strange person on the street. But it rang again. Walked through the dark hallway and answered the door. It was my brother so I buzzed him in. Immediately I knew something was wrong. I could hear him running up the flights of stairs to my apartment. He was crying. He said there’s been an accident, did Nemo contact you? At first I thought something had happened to my husband; then I thought something had happened to his wife or kids. Then he said the most painful words I have ever heard in my life: mom and dad, they’re gone. There’d been a fire. At first I thought he only said mom but then realized both my parents. The most deep and agonizing cries came out from the deepest part of my soul. I crumbled to the floor in tears and pain in utter disbelief. My cries woke my children. My beautiful children, who will grow up not knowing my wonderful parents. My parents have loved each of them like they were their own children. I couldn’t tell them what had happened. Not yet.
The events that followed seemed surreal. My in-laws came to be with the children while I went with my brother Nick to the police station in Stra. Sat their listening as the police chief gave us the details of everything they knew. They asked about my parents’ house and what was located where. They said my dad and had made it outside, but when he realized what was happening ran in to get my mom. Selfless love. My dad loved my mom so much. She was his world, of course he wouldn’t have left her in the house alone. The police chief asked if my parents wore any type of chain or necklace to identify them by because they did not want to make us have to identify them. They don’t want us to remember them in the state that their bodies are in. We described their unique wedding rings.
We went to church, as I knew that the people would be hearing the news. I needed to be with my church family. Everyone was in shock and disbelief. I went to the altar with my brother and we held each other and cried. Nick said that mom and dad were in the place they worked their whole life to get to. They are rejoicing, but we are the ones in pain. He continued to say that we were so lucky to have had such amazing parents and family. How we never had strife or resentment. How we loved each other, even through disagreements. And it’s true. Our parents never let anything get them down. We learned from a young age that God provides for every need. We were never in want. They had such faith and they passed it on to us. Just seeing the response we are getting from around the world shows that they have left a legacy.
After church we went to my brother’s house and stayed there until 7. Exactly 12 hours since I had heard the news. I didn’t want to go home. Mom and dad were supposed to have come over that evening. And as I thought about what I was supposed to do on Monday I realized I had made plans with mom to go Christmas shopping. So much pain.
Oh God, the only way to get through this pain is through Your strength. My mom was my best friend. She was the one person who I went to for EVERYTHING. She knew my heartaches and I knew hers. In moments of sadness, homesickness, confusion or happiness my first response is always to call my mom. But this time I couldn’t. Last night while my family was eating I went into my room and picked up my phone. I called mom’s number. It went to voicemail. Dad’s did the same. I called the house phone, the line was dead. Then it’s true. They are gone. Never have I felt such a painful slap in the face.
When it was bed time Gabriel didn’t want to sleep. He was crying. I asked what was wrong. He answered that he wanted his nonno and nonna to come and sleep at his house; that he wants to see them here again in person, not only in a picture. Oh how my heart breaks for him. He loved them so much. They had such a bond and I have no way to replace this for my little boy.
Though there is deep pain in my heart that feels like it will never go away, I have hope. I serve the same Lord Jesus that my parents served. I KNOW I will see them again, I just thought we would have more time on earth making more memories. They were my strength in my dark days. They helped me through the difficult times of being a mom to such small children with a husband who worked nights. My kids often slept at their house. I had even contemplated asking them to take my kids Saturday night, but I knew they were having company and didn’t want them to be overly tired. My mom would have said yes if I had asked, so I’m glad I didn’t. This could have been an even darker day.
God knew it was coming. Saturday morning we all went out for a walk in the Christmas markets of Padova. My parents, Nick’s family and my family. It was a special morning. Even Friday afternoon dad and I left the church office to go buy mom some presents. It wasn’t usual for dad and me to go out for walks. The Lord was pulling everything together. We needed those special moments away from the hectic day-to-day stuff. Friday night we went out Christmas caroling with the church. They were both so happy. They love this time of year. They love to give. Such pure hearts.
My parents were loving and selfless. My whole life I watched how they poured into other people. I remember when I was younger I would get upset and tell them to think of themselves for once and rest. They never would listen, saying this was their heart. They lived for others and God always blessed them for this. I’m not going to ask the question why, for who am I to question God. I know with full assurance that they ran the race and finished it well. And everyone around the world who has reached out to us in this difficult time has proven that.
I know my dad would probably quote this verse if he were here today: I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. And I’m sure when they got to Heaven Jesus was there with open arms saying: Well done, my good and faithful servants.
My heart is broken. I keep wanting to call mom. I have questions for dad that will never be answered. But I know I will be ok. My Jesus is my strength and my comfort.