The trip to the airport was a silent one. We traveled hand in hand, lost in our individual thoughts. As I replayed Mario’s visit in my mind, I couldn’t believe how much had transpired – and how many things had changed. Never in my wildest dreams had I thought that such a story could happen to me.
And now, here we were. In love. Engaged. And, once again, about to be separated.
We arrived early at Dulles, making sure there was plenty of time for traffic, parking and Mario’s international check-in. As it was a slow evening, we quickly made it through the initial lines and baggage check, until we arrived at the looming security gate – the gate that would be our spot of separation. With time to spare, we decided to wait in some nearby seats. Mario pulled me in his embrace and we silently willed the minutes to slow down.
As I felt the initial stirrings of despair, Mario pulled me up, forcing me to look at him.
“Non voglio essere triste. Dobbiamo parlare, parlare delle cose belle.“
(“I don’t want to be sad. We need to talk, to talk about beautiful things.”)
As the final moments slipped away, we started talking about the future: plans for my visit, for the wedding, for our future life together. And then, there was no more time to talk. Mario needed to pass through the gate.
As I walked him towards the first security check point, Mario grew quiet. Suddenly, he stopped. Turning, he pulled me towards him until, once again, we were forehead to forehead. Holding me there, he softly said, over and over:
“Ti amo, tesoro mio. Ti amo con tutto il mio cuore.“
(“I love you, my darling. I love you with all of my heart.”)
Tears started slipping from my eyes. How could I let him walk through those gates? How would I survive the next few months until I saw him again? I couldn’t bear the thought of not seeing him or touching him when I woke up the next day, or the day after. It seemed more than I could possibly handle.
Finally, Mario pulled back. Gently he wiped the tears from my face and leaned down to give me one, final kiss goodbye. With tears in his own eyes, he grabbed his bag and walked towards the security officer. And I just stood there. Staring. I couldn’t make myself move while he was still in eyesight. After going through the first check, Mario headed towards the escalator that would take him down to the main security lines. Pausing, he turned back for one last look. Raising his hand in farewell, he walked onto the first step, keeping eye contact until he disappeared from view.
And then he was gone.