A sad fact of village life is that the closeness of the community is never felt more than when it experiences a profound loss.
I was woken up this morning by P, who had left early to go to the campagna. He didn’t make it there as he was stopped on his way to be given some terrible news, and then he came home to tell me.
In this morning’s early hours, one of Badolato’s finest lost his life in an accident; his uncle was seriously injured. Sconvolto/a is the word in Italian that describes the feeling when you hear something like this: totally and utterly shocked to the core even though we all know, theoretically, that life is precious and that we need to cherish every single moment.
As is often the case in a tragedy of this sort, the young man killed was a wonderful person: a university student who also held a part-time job (not necessarily a common thing here in the rural south), smart, polite, always smiling. Our paths didn’t cross often, but about two weeks ago I passed by him while walking with M; he cooed and chatted with her for a good bit, wiggling her little hand as she responded with giggles. P was most recently with him last night, a few hours before his death.
This morning, I took M up to the bar for our breakfast as always; there were a lot more people out than usual at that hour, and they were unusually quiet. Seeing M’s happy little face made everyone’s mouth turn up a bit at the corners if only for a moment, and even though no one was up to the usual exaggerated greetings for M, they faked it quite well, for her sake.
My immediate thought upon hearing the news this morning was of this boy’s mother. Even before becoming a mother myself, my mind always went straight to the parents whenever a child died leaving them behind. But since having my own child, this is a thought that is simply unbearable to even consider. I cannot imagine what his mother, who buried her husband when she was pregnant with her third child about fifteen years ago, is going through. Another sweet, sweet person.
After a subdued breakfast, I took M on our usual walk, which happened to take us right through the scene of the accident, which had occurred about six hours before. I suppose my mind wasn’t working properly as it honestly didn’t occur to me until we were nearly upon it that we’d be passing through there. Instead, when we arrived where I was sure it must have happened based on what I had been told, there was zero evidence of anything awry.
Not a stone or piece of dirt out of place. Not a drop of blood.
I found out later that a man who lives in that section of the village took it upon himself to hose down the scene, also dumping bleach and scrubbing to clean it well. The family homestead of both young men involved in the accident is at the end of that road, you see, and there was simply no need for there to be any additional reminder of what had happened.
And that is Badolato. That small yet grand gesture says a lot about this village, I think, where everyone knows everyone and if you go back far enough, are probably related.
So yes, Badolato is in mourning today and will be for some time, particularly as one of our own is still in the hospital with very serious injuries. If you can spare some prayers, thoughts, healing vibes, whatever it is you personally do, please send them his and this family’s way.
I just can’t stop thinking about what happened, about the whatifs and the whys, about life and death and about how no matter how long we’re here it’s not long enough and about the huge holes we all will leave behind even if we think they’re small and oh my goodness mommies and daddies and everyone, hug your loved ones tightly. And often.
Ciao carissimo Enzo . . . rimarrai sempre nei nostri cuori.