As we packed our suitcases in April, the hazelnut trees by the driveway were beginning to leaf. George had pruned them short and healthy, but no one would bother with them for years to come, and they would grow high and thick, blocking the second story windows and my favorite view.
I wandered the rooms on our last few days, fixing images in my memory: our spacious bedroom with the weird king bed and the mirrored wardrobe; our balcony where I had stepped out on that long ago early morning seeing for the first time the courtyard and valley that would become so familiar. I moved past the twin beds and two cribs for the children, and onto the balcony off their bedroom where they had played. As I walked I noted the dark, red tile beneath my feet, the pattern softened from years of use, still fading to pale pink dust. I passed the couch, rocking chair, and carpet that had made up our living room. We would have to leave them all behind.
I looked up at the tall double windows—clean in their fresh, smooth, ivory paint—and traced with my finger the deep groove on the left window that mated with the tongue on the right. Resting outside were the light green window shutters that I had opened each morning and closed each evening. The paint on all the windows and doors and shutters would soften then peel as the years passed and there was no one in the house to notice.
And of course I gazed through those windows at the freshly planted fields and leafing vineyards, the green hills that surrounded us, and the village below, a view that had been so much a part of my background at Gabi, one that is fixed in my memory. On the last day, just before we snapped the catches on the suitcases, I basked in that view one final time as the morning sun lit up the bright, white peaks of the Swiss Alps. I watched the light spread slowly over the pale green fields of Valle Cerrina until it banished the dark shadows over the long, winding, gravel road that leads up to Gabi.
In a little while we would pack our car and drive down that road. The mists had lifted; the way was clear. We would travel back to the United States of America to rebuild our life once more in the country we had abandoned, near the family we had left behind. The future held far greater tragedy and greater happiness than we had known thus far, but it would be faced from the firm foundation of a place where we belonged, a place we could call home.
|The children back in Burbank|
|My sister beside me, my in-laws, aunt and cousins at Jennifer's christening|
NOTE: The story of our time in Italy starts with "Arrival" on the June 26, 2017 blog post.