As we explored my Grandma's hometown, I saw her all around me: in the expression on an old woman's face, in the butcher shops and bakeries, in people's mannerisms, in the abundance of food and wine. Knowing that the city looks totally different now than it did in 1926 when Gram left for America didn't at all take away from the sense that I was walking where she walked. While the streets and buildings aren't the same ones she saw, the mountains are. The ocean is. I smile even now, just thinking about being where my Gram spent the first thirteen years of her life. I hope she was smiling from Heaven at the sight of Niel and I, hand in hand, walking the streets of her beloved Palermo.
Our last day there, we walked along the pier with a dried rose in our hands. At my Grandma's funeral, Niel saved the rose that was intended to be tossed atop her grave along with the rest of the family's. He brought it back to Africa and then to Italy. We stood together on the pier for a long while; I cried as I held the rose in my hand.
And then I let it go. I tossed it gently into the water. Niel held me and we cried together.
In those moments I was so overwhelmed by both how much I miss my Gram and how much I love my husband. Niel's thoughtfulness to even think about doing this made me feel so loved, and seeing tears stream down his face left me confident of how deeply he loves me.
Walking away from that pier, I felt more peace than I had in a long time...