It’s strange to think that you’re not here anymore.
I remember when we were younger and we’d arrive to see you. The first place we’d go was to the window, pressing our faces against the glass to try and catch a glimpse of you. We’d look out, and you’d be there. Like you always were. In the garden.
Each trip was different, an adventure. There were rows of neatly sown lettuce seeds, bean stalks twice as tall as we were, ripe strawberries just waiting to be found by our greedy little fingers. Tomatoes would be taken and made into sauce, lemons would be squeezed to create limoncello, grapes transformed into a sticky grape jelly which tasted of summer and childhood dreams.
I kneel down and gently touch the small weeds which are beginning to sprout. I can feel the soft, moist soil. I remember your weathered hands sifting through it, removing the weeds that now grow from the ground. It’s hard to believe that I’m now alone, in the place where you stood so many times. It’s the same soil, yet everything has changed.
Maybe that’s why you loved it so much. It linked you to your homeland, a time and place which has long been forgotten. A place of Mediterranean sun, white washed buildings and olive groves. That soil linked you to every living thing on this planet. It could cross oceans and transgress cultures, bringing you back to a time when you were with your closest friends and family. It took you back home, to Italy.
Yet the earth enabled you to create a new home here, in a foreign place where the language was different. One thing remained the same, something which did not need words to communicate life, hardship and love. The earth is a common ground, something on which while we’re standing, holds us together in a global community. Regardless of religion, race, or culture, the soil beneath our feet holds us as one and nurtures life. A life you’re not here to experience anymore.
Tanned brown faces in rice fields. Dusty streets and soccer balls. Produce ready to be sent to the markets. Small hands reaching to pick bright flowers. An old man, shuffling through his garden regardless of the weather. And you, now resting in the earth where you belong.
And even though you’re gone, I suddenly don’t feel so alone.