I wrote this piece when I went to Spoleto, Italy with a program called Spoleto Study Abroad. I went for creative writing and this was my final piece. This piece is very personal and it was hard to write at certain times. It is dedicated to my grandfather and it is about the struggles I went through when he passed away. It ends happily, so don’t worry about it being too sad. This piece means a lot to me though because it is dedicated to a very special person and it is probably one of my favorite pieces that I’ve written that wasn’t for school. I hope you enjoy!
A Letter to a Loved One
As I visit an Italian cemetery, cathedrals and churches, it causes me to flashback to the summer of 2004. Flowers and potted plants are scattered throughout the cemetery; gifts for lost loved ones. The quietness of the cemetery reminds me of when you died. All my memories of that dreaded day rush to the front of my mind as I glance around this serene cemetery.
It was an unexpected phone call and an immediate plane flight that caused all future plans to be forgotten. The camp stuff, needing to be packed, lay on the floor waiting and the dishes, needing to be washed, remain forgotten on the kitchen countertop. I remember watching my mother hugging her sister with tears streaming down both of their faces. Only being nine years old at the time, I was sad and confused when my mom told me that I could not come into your hospital room to say goodbye.
As I sit in this Italian cemetery, seeing all the family graves and the flowers for loved ones, I am able to gain an understanding about the Italian culture and how they value the togetherness of family. I think about how you were cremated and how that has affected me. I don’t have a place to bring you flowers and I don’t have a place to go when I need someone to talk to. I remember after your funeral, sitting in the gazebo, wondering why God chose you. I questioned God, asking him what you did to deserve this and why it was your time. I did not think that it was possible for someone to be gone from my life without a second glance.
I grieved for months; my heart was like a fountain filled with water that flowed into eternity. My grief slowly trickled out because of memories of you. I tried to build up walls strong enough to protect my heart. But they instantly crashed upon my weakened heart at the mention of your nonexistence in this world. You always told me to be strong; I tried. My eyes drooped from exhaustion, showing the evidence of late nights fighting off the tears that threatened to escape their confined space. “Live life to the fullest” and “enjoy what you do” were two of your favorite life lessons that you reminded me of every day. You told me you would be with me for forever; even if you were not by my side, you would be watching over me.
I still miss you deeply, but I’ve gotten past weeping at the mention of your name. When I gaze on the happiness of a family portrait in a nearby grave here, I have happy memories of you. Passing all the gelato and pastry shops, I think of all the chocolate that you and I ate constantly. I always told everyone that I got my sweet tooth from you. Every summer, as I drive the boat, I think of the early morning or late night boat rides that we took in hopes of catching some fish. Every time I see a snapping turtle, I think about how you made everyone get up early one morning to bury a dead and smelly snapping turtle. You made my dad help lug the turtle into a wheelbarrow so that we could sing the Star Spangled Banner while we buried it. My memories of you twist and turn in my mind like the twisting and turning of a boat that is swinging a tube around in its wake. You smile at me as your own daughter devilishly tries to get me off the tube.
You probably are laughing at me right now. Your sweet memories soothe me to sleep at night and your humor that concerned chocolate and your birthday will forever keep me calm in stressful situations. I know that I will see you some time in the future, but until then I know that you are watching me. The tears that were threatening to escape flee and the walls of my heart grow stronger as my memories of you bring me even greater happiness.
~ I love you and I will never forget you. ~