Late in the morning I awake from dreams I don’t want to remember. As the coffee is brewing, I step out into the courtyard. The once familiar scene suddenly turns bizarre, as if I have never been here before. Bone white of the stucco wall, illuminated by the sun. The dark shadows. A gust of chilly wind.
Jack is disappointed because I am not telling him anything, and so a distance is growing between us. Maybe this slow process had its start when mom and dad died. Or maybe it began more recently, when I realized that sharing the nightmare of what’s going on with Vittoria would be pointless.
I’m a novelist. I can put it all down in coherent sentences and paragraphs. How would you like it, Jack? Full of detail, and weighty with emotion, as the subject fully deserves? I know how to do that because I’ve had plenty of practice over the past four or five years. But didn’t you once tell me that I dramatize things too much?
Okay, then, I could make it a minimalist piece. Just the facts. One after another. This happened, and then this. A week later, THIS.
And now shall I tell you, dear brother, that I can’t bear the sight of things that used to make me weep with elation? Those leafy shadows dancing on the stucco wall, for instance. And the scents of bouganvilla, clover, violets, the vineyard’s freshly turned damp earth.
Beauty doesn’t help, it makes it worse.
The problem is, once I lay it all out I know exactly what you will tell me. “Oh, Jimmy, I’m so sorry.” Or you’ll say, “Maybe things aren’t as bad as they seem. Maybe she’ll come out of it. Didn’t the doctor say that was among the possibilities?”
Yes, the doctor said that. But to me, Jack, they’re meaningless words, as would be your recitation of sympathy. Words. They won’t change anything for Vittoria, and they can’t make me feel better.
But life must go on, eh? One foot in front of the other.
I’ll tell you about yesterday, then. Around 10:30 in the morning I went to the tiny chapel of Soccorso to meditate in the cool darkness. But it wasn’t empty, as usual. The old caretaker was slowly making preparations for a wedding. She’d already put out all the white roses, and the lilies. A musician was setting up his electric organ. He and a young girl rehearsed.
Vergin del ciel
Sovrana di grazie
It was unbearable.
But I stayed anyway, and what’s more I took photographs of the happy ritual, and they’re enclosed for your perusal.
See how beautiful everything was on that glorious, bright sunny morning? Funny thing, Jack. The program said the ceremony would begin at 11. But the bride’s Mercedes did not arrive until around 11:30.
I understand this is both an Italian and a woman thing. Keep them all waiting. That’s the way it’s done. The groom didn’t mind. Much.
It was utterly lovely.