When I finally entered the Fiori’s house that night, I was physically and emotionally exhausted. Everything was so surreal, and I couldn’t help but wish that I would wake up to find that it had all just been one terrible nightmare.
Signora Fiori was still awake when I walked through the front door. Since she had more of an “early to bed” personality, I was surprised to see her puttering around the kitchen. She took one look at my face and realizing that nothing had been solved, pulled me into a loving embrace.
I was just about to completely lose it, and crumble into a bawling, sniveling mess, when suddenly, she pulled back. Kissing my check, she got a devilish look in her eye, and told me to sit down at the table. And then, the true Italian mamma comfort started. Cupboards were opened, and a pile of food started to appear on a counter. Guessing correctly that I had eaten anything substantial during my journey, or in the hours that followed with Mario, she began to dish out love through the best way Italians know how: food. Pasta, bread, and cheese were quickly followed by fruit and an obscene amount of good, European chocolate. The television was turned on, and a cheesy Italian movie started to play. And for one blissful hour, I managed to overcome the sadness and panic that had been building throughout the entire evening.
When I finally stumbled towards my bedroom, I knew that I had one more thing to do before I tried to get some sleep. The thought of telling people the news made me physically ill. I was sill reeling from the entire experience and wasn’t in any way prepared to talk about the past few weeks with anyone. So I took the cowards way out. I drafted a short email, one version for my immediate family, one for my boss, and one for my friends who were planning the bridal shower that was supposed to happen as soon as I returned.
The engagement is off. No, I’m not doing well. And no, I don’t want to talk about it.
I pushed send as the tears started to fall. The words had such as sense of finality. It seemed like I wasn’t going to be waking up from this nightmare after all.