Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Cross - 03/19/2007

When you weep for others, are you certain you're not weeping for yourself? (on a day of anxiety)

My grandmother is dying. She is in her early 80's, has severe depression, and is now the sweetest, simplest, shadow of the Italian Spit-fire she once was. These last two years have been quite a tale, but I wouldn't trade them for the world. Her most recent stay in the hospital has been the most dramatic so far.

Her liver count is off, her kidneys are shutting down, and she has a huge blood clot in her thigh. It started last Thursday, and after being in the emergency room for 7 hours they said the beds were full and they sent her home. The next day her doctor called and said to get her in asap, that she should have been admitted no matter what. So... back to the hospital she went.

At some point in time, all of us cried. Raffaela Lina (Donzeli) Mitchell is my mom's mom, she's been my dad's mother in-law for 30-some years, and she's been "Nonna" to my brothers and myself all our lives... but I don't think that any of us cried for the loss of what could have been if she was healthy... we've been watching her die a little more every day. This time around, I think we've cried for ourselves. Perhaps Dad hasn't cried yet, but you can see it in his eyes. His mother was killed in a car accident last January, and Lina's the last link to that era for us. My mom had her breakdown over the weekend, just before we brought Nonna back home. I don't know that I have cried for me just yet, but I know I will.

I've been able to identify that my guilt comes from what I've been looking forward to doing after she passes away. For the last two years I have not been able to work overtime, I have not been able to go swing dancing on a regular basis, and I have been living back home with my parents to help them. Will I be able to rejoyce in participating in the things I love, working and earning a few extra bucks, and look forward to a place of my own? I didn't think so, at first. But then I remembered... Lina Mitchell was the very image of an Italian beauty, a lively and vital woman who sang and danced and survived her way through WWII and Nazi occupation, raised 5 wonderful children after her husband left them on a farm in Joyce WA, became an "American-a Citizen" after being a contributing member of society for 40-some years. Up until last August, she still let me lead her around the kitchen, tried to Charleston when I played my swing tunes, and knew every word to Torna Surriento, O Sole Mio, and every song Dean Martin ever sang. These are the things I'm going to remember, and I am going to celebrate in her life. The tears you will soon see- that might spontaneously trickle down my cheek- are tears of joy more than anything else.

When you cry with someone, are you crying for them, or are you crying for yourself? Either way, it's ok to cry.

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