I littered the train tracks between Lucca and Rome with an endless stream of tears. I’m sure my fellow passengers thought that I was somewhat crazy, but I was too wrapped up in my sorrow to care. All I knew was that I was trapped in a nightmare, and I didn’t know how to wake up.
When I finally arrived at Rome, I still had to navigate the subway system to get to Cara’s home on the outskirts of the city. The task at hand forced me to pull myself together, but the sheer force of will required to figure out where I was going, exhausted my remaining physical and emotional strength. By by the time I arrived, I felt devoid of emotion, and though Cara welcomed with a large hug and a concerned expression, I just shook my head. I couldn’t bring myself to talk about it.
Cara concentrated on distracting me, plying me with stories and updates about her life and her family. She introduced me to her neighborhood and her apartment, and called her husband Alto to let him know that I had arrived safely. He hurried home from work, bearing gifts of bombe, an Italian desert that resembles a cream or chocolate filled doughnut, and we passed the evening watching an old movie. While trying to find the enjoyment in being with old friends, I felt like I was moving through a fog. The shock of the last few days had completely drained me, leaving behind an emotionally fragile, empty shell. And even though I knew that Cara and Alto were desperately curious to know what had transpired, they sensed that it was best not to push me for information.
My only goal was to survive the evening. I was so close. The movie ended and everyone began making preparations to go to sleep. The futon was turned down into a bed for me, and I just had to get through their nightly prayer.
As we kneeled down around my makeshift bed, I could feel the first crack in my composure. As Alto prayed, the tears started streaming down my face. But it was when he asked for help and guidance for me during this difficult time that the sobs erupted. I buried my face in the blanket, desperately trying to muffle the wails that seemed to emit from somewhere deep in my soul. My whole body started to shake, and my legs gave out. The dam had broken, and I was helpless against the onslaught of emotion.
I immediately felt Cara’s arms embrace me, followed by Alto’s hands on my head, stroking back my hair. Both tried to offer some measure of comfort. But all I could do was cry.
How could Mario do this? How could he let me leave? Why wouldn’t he talk to me? What had happened to the man that I had fallen in love with?
What was I going to do?
I was in danger of completely falling apart. I could hear Cara and Alto concerned voices whispering above my head, but I couldn’t bring myself to listen. I knew they were discussing me, but I was past the point of all control.
Gradually the sobs began to dissipate. The emotion of heartbreak began to be tinged with embarrassment as I realized what I had done. But when I tried to apologize, they simply hushed me and pulled me into their arms. I had found a haven in the middle of my storm.