The Agonizing Loss of My Parents

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.


27 Comments Add yours

  1. Connie Corder says:

    My heart aches for you and your family……this is a very painful burden to bear in this life….to lose those we love so dearly. But we know that for everything there is a season…. a time to be born and a time to die……and God has both in His hands……We do not know the reason why things like this happen, but we know that God knows and He has a plan that we cannot see. The most important thing is that we know where they are, in His loving arms, and they have run the race, finished the course that He had laid out for them, and now they have attained their reward…..a crown of life! Life without struggle, pain, suffering, disappointment, grief, or death. They did not die without hope….and we have that hope as well……that we will see them again in glory! May the Lord comfort you now and in the days ahead….May you feel His loving arms of comfort and strength around you and may His joy that passes all understanding still be in your spirit as you say “until we meet again”…….

  2. Ohaeri Omolara Faith says:

    Yes He is and we would all get through this and come out even better, especially you Nick and Chris. You all will be very fine by God’s grace. So sorry Alicia

  3. Lynne Padilla says:

    Such a beautiful and painful posting. What an incredible tribute and what a gift you received in them. We should all strive to so good. Prayers and heartfelt condolences.

  4. Jen Hickle says:

    I am so, so sorry for your loss…I visited Padova and met your parents in 1999 on tour with North Central’s chorale. I am absolutely heartbroken for you. Praying God’s supernatural peace will carry you through these dark days…

  5. Hello Alicia I am so sorry about your loss I consider your father and mother great friends. Your church family here in Gig Harbor are in shock too and praying for you all. I went to their home meeting at your house. I remember you as a baby and Nick being small too. Chris was such a sweet boy too. I was hoping to visit Italy someday maybe I will to see you and Nick’s family. I enjoyed each time your mother and father made the trip back to Gig Harbor. We had a lot of good laughs. They made me feel as family. My thoughts will continue to be with you. Much Love Herb

  6. Cathy Wenzel says:

    Your Uncle Jeff shared this on Facebook, and I wanted you to know how beautiful this is…how proud your parents are of you…and how much this will mean to your children when they are older. As Meghann’s mother-in-law, I remember your parents fondly from Meghann and Brian’s wedding. One moment in particular is my favorite: before the wedding rehearsal, your dad took Meghann and Brian aside for some private words. As I watched from a distance, your dad placed his right hand on Brian’s shoulder and there was an obvious relaxation of Brian’s posture…you could literally see a weight being lifted from his shoulders! (I don’t know if your dad was aware or not, but Brian had been pretty ill during the few days just prior to the wedding, and both he and Meghann were anxious about everything turning out alright.) It was after that chat and prayer with your dad that I saw Brian, for the first time, really start to enjoy the whole wedding process…and I will remember your dad’s part in that, always!! Please take care…know that my entire family is sending love and prayers to yours…and if there is anything, ever, we can do please don’t hesitate to ask!
    Cathy Wenzel

  7. Jen Strozina says:

    The sadness and heart ache I feel for you and your family is beyond measure. I knew your parents in the summer os 2006 when my church did a mission trip. We came all the way from Wayland Mass, (USA) to a lovely smiling face at the airport. It was your mom. She made sure we were settled and relaxed, even having us sit for a cup of true Italian cappuccino and brioche at the airport before getting in to all the cars to head out.
    They were both so kind and filled with wisdom. The love they had for others was so infectious and genuine. I will always remember your mother singing “Santo Santo Santo is the Lamb” and asking us to sing in Ialian with her as we visited all the gates of the city.
    Your dad had such a fun whit to him and his welcoming spirit shown thru.

    I did question why God would have allowed this tragedy, but as you said, “who am I to question God”
    Now is their time to rest and be in His Holy presence for all eternity.

    Much love, Jen Canavan Strozina (Clinton, Ma. USA)

  8. For those of us who write, I know getting your words on paper is the first step in the healing process. Please know, you and your family are being surrounded by a multitude of prayer warriors. God bless.

  9. Sue says:

    Alicia, you have expressed it so fully! I will be thinking of you and praying for you continually! I remember when my dad passed away, the next day was the worst because when I woke up, I realized it was real and true and awful but God was even more real and true and wonderful. I love you lots!! Your parents were and will continue to be a huge blessing to so many! I was always welcomed by them. I remember our lunch in Florence at that quaint little restaurant. Good memories!

  10. Linda Long says:

    So beautifully written. We are missionaries too . We never met your parents but your tribute makes me wish I had. I am so sorry for this tragic loss for you and your family. May God give you peace and strength.

  11. Nancy LaVenture says:

    I am so very sorry for the pain that you have in your heart right now! May our Lord and Saviour comfort you, may He bestow upon you His PEACE!

  12. kevinnorberg says:

    Alicia, our hearts are breaking with yours. So very, very difficult. I lost my Mom to a sudden heart attack twenty-three years ago. Still, all these years later, what I wouldn’t give to pick up the phone and talk to Mom! My Dad is still living, but was never there for us; he checked out as a father decades ago. So I know the pain of being without earthly parents. But you have such a rich legacy of memories to fall back on. Don’t ever be afraid to go there… Remember them. Remember the laughter you shared. The fun times. The tears. The talks. That’s how we keep those we love alive… in our hearts and in our memories.

    Rebecca and I are praying for you and your family during this difficult time of separation. Just know that it’s not “Goodbye.” It’s “see ya later!” You are keeping their spirit alive by honoring their memory with your life and the lives of your children. Blessings!

  13. Diane saaybe says:

    Since I saw the request I have prayed. Now I can pray more specifically. I cannot express my heartbreak for you and your family. Please count on my continued prayers for you all. And as your parents trusted you to God I will pray that you will be able BOTH to trust your parents into His arms and your cHildren into His care and comfort

  14. Anne Turla says:

    My heart is breaking reading your writing – I can feel the pain because I lost my both parents, are still blessed because God have given you the privileged to be with them , unlike me I am away with them almost half of my life working here in Italy to earn for a living while they are in the their old age – I was not there by their side – I am paying somebody to take care of them.
    Don’t take heart be of good courage,says the Lord – continue the works of your parents.i had the chance to meet your parents way back 1996 at ICF Rome.your dad also went into our house in Mancini to check the 1st personal computer of ICF Filipino group.and when we transferred in Galliera Veneta Padova – their ministries continued too in the same city.
    Our God is able, Alicia – best thing is yet to come.yes, it is painful but they are in a better place now and they can see Jesus face to face.God bless you; Alicia.with much love and prayers, Sis.Anne

  15. Joyce says:

    Precious ones, though we don’t know each other, our hearts are grieving with you. We will pray for His peace. Though there is sorrow in this season, the enemy cannot steal your joy in knowing He came for our pain. Hold fast. We will hold you and yours up before Him.

  16. Cristina Palima Manibo says:

    they’re such good and faithful servants of the Lord and your dad was my professor during the early 1990’s. Praying for you all from Filipino Rome family.

  17. Leigh Pierce says:

    Alicia, you don’t know me, but you may know my brother Jay Griffin who went to be with the Lord in May of this year. I loved your parents. I am so sorry they have gone from our lives too soon. They were so steadfast and resolute in everything they did, yet they did it with such passion and joy. From your post, I can see that they passed this along to their children. May God’s tender mercies that are new every morning sustain you in this sorrowful, yet hopeful, time.

  18. Lucel C C says:

    This is really sad.I’m so sorry to hear this. Your parents are very precious servants and children of God who is holding them right now. Praying for you and family. God covers you all with His peace,comfort ,and strength. Love &hugs. All respect and appreciation for your parents. Praise God for His hope and for the valuable lot He’s given them which is now a legacy. Stay comforted.

  19. Lucel C C says:

    This is really sad.I’m so sorry to hear this. Your parents are very precious servants and children of God who is holding them right now. Praying for you and family. God covers you all with His peace,comfort ,and strength. All respect and appreciation for your parents. Praise God for His hope and for the valuable life He’s given them which is now a legacy. Stay comforted. Love & hugs.God bless all the missionaries and families around the world!

  20. Joy Headley says:

    We have prayed everyday as a staff for your family. We love the legacy of your parents even though have not met them personally. The church family around the world is praying with you. Thank you for sharing your heart..

  21. Ty and Cina Silva says:

    Alicia – Thank you from sharing your heart with us. We want you all … and the church to know that our hearts have been touched deeply by your loss. We have prayed for all of you here in Taipei.

    Ty and Cina Silva
    Lead Pastors
    Agape ICA-Taipei

  22. Bobbie says:

    I am so very sorry for your loss. Your parents were lovely people and opened their home to us when my husband preached at their church 3 years ago. I still have many pictures of their home because it was so beautiful and comfortable and I loved every part of it. You have been heavily in our prayers.

  23. Susan says:

    I am so very sorry for your loss. Alicia, your words are powerfully pointing to your faith, and your beautiful relationship with your parents. We met, you and I, in Lugano-Paradiso, when my sister in law, Deloris, was visiting.

    My husband and I had the privilege of visiting with Steve last December while in the area – and He showed us the church. I’m also grateful for the Saturday this summer that we shared with your parents in Munich. It was a fun day, and they are amazing people.

    This is a heart-breaking loss for many, but especially you and your your family; you remain in our prayers.

  24. Sheila Speight says:

    I heard about your parents through my friend Kay Farmer. I did not know any details but began to pray for all who were family and friends to them. Thank you for your story here. I googled their name to learn more about them and saw your story. You are in our prayers. Sheila Speight

  25. Rick & Deloris Benjamin says:

    To Steve and Patti’s family;
    We have known Steve and Patti since the 1970s. We all served Jesus together as young singles in a little church called Jovita Chapel in Washington. We were at their wedding. We watched them follow their passion and God’s call to Italy for over 20 years. Deloris got to see them 3 years ago in Lugano. They have both been bfaithful servants to God and his people and dear friends to us.
    We cried and cried when we heard the terrible news. We aren’t surprised Steve gave his life trying to save Patti. Their reward in heaven is great.
    We know they loved you all so much. We are praying for you and the church there. May God heal all of our broken hearts.

    Pastor Rick & Deloris Benjamin
    Abbott Loop Community Church
    Anchorage Alaska

  26. Millie Grams says:

    I’m so sorry for the loss of your parents. My great nephew is in the Army and is in Italy. He attends your parents church. He’s only been there for a few months and was heartbroken to receive the news they had perished in a fire. I posted their photos on my FB prayer group, Burden Bearers Prayer Group, for the church and your family. May God give you , your children, your brother and the rest of the family and friends peace in this darkest of times.

  27. my heart was heavy for you all during the holidays. I was a friend with Brenda Mahar when we were children at boarding school and also my family was close friends with the family of Jennifer Pasquale. Please know that a missionary kid that you don’t know in Tennessee is lifting your whole family up in prayer.

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