RIP Nonna Vjollca
Sometimes you travel for the worst possible reasons. It’s a trip you’d hoped you wouldn’t have to make for a really long time. Maybe even forever. If we were lucky. If a miracle smiled down on us…
If. If. If…
I thought long and hard about writing this post. I somehow felt that it wasn’t my right to put these words to paper.
Because the depth of my relationship with my mother-in-law was nowhere close to my husband’s – HER SON, my sisters-in-law – HER DAUGHTERS, Naia’s great-grandfather – HER FATHER, her brother, her cousins, her friends as close as sisters, her nieces, her nephews and the list goes on and on and on and on – of the people who loved her and were touched by her in a life cut unfairly, unjustly short.
But it felt equally wrong to ignore an earthquake of this magnitude in our lives. To say nothing. To keep writing posts, and listicles, and restaurant recommendations on this blog, without a word.
And so here I am. Sitting in an Italian coffee shop in Seoul, that has nothing in common with any cafe I’ve ever been to in Italy. Allowing myself to grieve at last. In my way. The words allowing the wound to open enough to cry. The words providing a clear window into the simple truth that I haven’t grieved for the same reason it’s taken me this long to write this post.
I didn’t think it was my right. After all, who am I? To her…
But of course, all grief has it’s place. No matter what form it takes. No matter where it happens to reside.
At a remembrance lunch for family members in Albania, her father described her life, as a “storm,” and it was that.
Living under the utter restriction of a Communist Dictator in Albania, I can only imagine how she longed to be free (as almost every Albanian I’ve ever met does). When Communism finally fell in 1991 and left the country poor and in ruins, she moved to Greece, then Italy, and finally Canada, pulling not only herself and her children out of poverty, but countless others along with her.
This priceless gift of opportunity for her children, given through hard work and the force of a will so immense it cannot be measured, may be her greatest legacy yet.
Nonna Vjollca, my greatest sadness is that your granddaughter will not have the privilege of knowing you. Even now, a month after your passing, I watch her growing and changing and learning at an impossible rate, and my anger at the absolute injustice of it all is always there, muted in the background, behind the inevitable laughter and joy of watching your child become who she is.
Sail free Nonna Vjollca. May you find peace in the rivers, oceans, and skies of the world as your soul travels to the furthest reaches of our Universe.
I hope it’s beautiful.