A Village in Mourning

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.

Mourning by Tim Green on FlickrIn 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.

19 Beans of Wisdom to “A Village in Mourning”
  1. Gil

    Wow! That was a hard read as it was so sad. I was expecting that something bad happened to the ancient statue. Will remember the young man, his family and your village in my prayers. Oh and a hug for beautiful little Miss M!

  2. 07.20.2014

    It seems as though there are so many of these stories on the news lately and it’s just devastating. 🙁

  3. bonnie melielo

    In my thoughts and prayers. Every Sunday I say a rosary for the shattered hearts of mommies and daddies, spouses and children whose families are no longer whole. 🙁

  4. Marie Mancini

    So very saddened to read of this horrid tragedy. So much sadness in the world today, we need to focus on the happy times, the sweetness of the children, the scent of the lemons, the flight of the birds, the sounds of rain, because after all, my dear… We all live to die. But – we live… and that is the blessing – embrace your J and M. My prayers are with this young man’s family and with the survivor – may he heal and do good in this world.
    Big, rocking hug to you – Marie

  5. Mary Leonardi Cattolica

    So sad Michelle. Nothing is more tragic than the young who die before their time.

  6. Lili

    My heart aches for your Badolato….My husband and I have lost a son, so I hurt especially for this poor, dear Mother.
    Your post is a beautiful tribute to this young man and to the love and kindness of those in your village.
    God bless you all. You will be in my prayers.

  7. 07.21.2014


    Love n light

  8. 07.21.2014

    I know precisely the feelings and thoughts going through you mind and you cope with this tragedy with your village. Our little village here in central PA had a similar event a week ago yesterday when a man -young to me because I’ve known him since he was a small child and I went to school with his parents -at age 48, his mother found him dead in his bed last Saturday. He was known to virtually everyone here as well as throughout the township. A very hard worker, he worked on the janitorial staff at our schools plus, he had his own side business, lawncare, that he has been performing for over twenty some years now too. And, add to that, he never had a bad word to say about anyone nor did anyone ever find anything bad to say about him either. Always a big smile and if in his pickup truck, a wave as he passed you. The viewing Wednesday night was wall-to-wall people coming to pay respects to him, his siblings, parents, etc. Just such a shock as he died of a heart attack. But, as you said about a mother’s feelings when something like this happens, I can’t even fathom how I would be, what reactions I would have, were something to happen to any of my three kids, even if they are all adults now, or to my grandchildren. My heart goes out to my neighbors here in their loss as well as to yours in Italy. Children are supposed to be the ones left behind, not the parents, is the basic assumption I guess most everyone has, isn’t it? But it is so sad to even think about it.

  9. George

    My thoughts and prayers for the people of Badalato for losing one of their
    youngsters in the unfortunate accident. Padre Pio will surely heal the
    broken hearts. Little Marisa certainly ameliorates the pain everyone is
    suffering –she personfies what precious life is all about.
    Take good care of her, Michelle and P

  10. 07.21.2014

    How tragic. Life really is precious. Sending a big abbraccio, Cristina

  11. 07.21.2014

    Oh Michelle, sending you a big hug and love to all in Badolato at this tremendously hard time. <3

  12. 07.21.2014

    When something this tragic happens, one word flows from our thoughts through our lips why. We mourn hoping the tears may heal, knowing in time we will be with our loved ones who have passed and still that emptiness within our being never goes away. We never really get over the loss of a son, daughter, parent or someone close to our heart but hopefully time helps us survive for the short time we are here until we see them again. My prayers are with the family and friends of this young man, even though he is gone he is still with them watching over his loved ones. Paulette

  13. Marsha

    Very sad and yes, tragic. Am thinking of you and all in your village.
    May your collective kindness help you in this difficult time.

  14. Linda D.

    Words feel like a small thing to offer when people are grieving, but sometimes they are all we have. I wish I could give a reassuring touch, a hot meal, a chore taken off someone’s shoulders, a shared embrace. Losing a child, even a grown child, feels out of order to me. As a mother, I share that primal fear and hope that his family will someday be able to remember him without that sharp stab of loss. He was loved. That much is obvious from your post. Absorbing that loss will never be free of pain, but that love can make it easier to bear. Thank you for sharing the image of him kanoodling with your daughter. It somehow made hearing the news of this stranger’s death easier for me. I knew he had been fully present to his life while he was here. I will keep him and your village in my prayers.

  15. 07.21.2014

    This is just very, very sad. I know that a parent can never fully recover from such a tragedy. Just last night at a community potluck I visited with a mother who lost her thirteen year old son in an avalanche two years ago while skiing. I have never seen such a sad, tragic face. I don’t even really know her very well but I just wanted to take her in my arms and rock her like a baby.

  16. 07.21.2014

    sending love and holding the family and those who are hurting in our heart…

  17. 07.22.2014

    Such sad news. We have a 22 yr old who just finished university. To think that such a promising life has been ended so soon is devastating. Prayers for the family and friends.

  18. 07.22.2014

    So tragic! I will add Enzo and his family to my prayers!

  19. My thoughts and prayers to your family and town. So heart breaking.



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