I spent my childhood with my father, my mother, and my sister, taking as much love as possible from them as if we were living in a tale. Dad, who worked as a pianist in a luxury hotel in Rome, was an old-fashioned gentleman; mom was a sweet and sensitive woman who took full-time care of us. A kind of magic was always blowing in our house.
Since my very first days, I started dancing. The music my father played stimulated my body to dancing discipline. Our backyard became a free and wild stage, steeped in music, sweat, and dreams. There was an invisible world between us. I still find funny to think about all the times that, when my mother, my sister and I entered the hall of the Grand Hotel where my father worked, he stopped playing what was delighting his guests and, in order to make us step in as princesses, the notes of some Walt Disney cartoon music rose up from his grand piano. It was our secret code. And we really felt like princesses. His princesses. Until they decided to break up. He left. I was 11.
Suddenly, after being left alone, the three of us lost any relation with my father. He had not been able to bear the new management our family had. At that very moment, I realized how deeply fragile he was. Solving the situation with my mother required a strength he did not have and he got lost, although I tried to shake him. Being his daughter, perhaps I could never understand what joined them in deep; to me, they have never separated.
I’m grateful to my mother and to her strength: she never left us, although she needed to feel like someone was holding her, too. She never got lost. She has always been true to me and my sister, in every circumstance. She provided us the package leaflet for contraindications, in case of doubt. We were bred in an atmosphere made of constant sharing and mutual support. Sometimes, I saw her crying, while doing the washing up at night; nevertheless, even during such a dark moment, my mother was still a safe harbor.
And so was dancing. I never stopped dancing, it was still there. I kept on practicing, year after year, looking for a reason to make my creativity, my energy, and my rage vent and for a handhold to help me not to surrender.
However, the real surrender occurred some years later. When dad got sick and, in a month, passed away. This time, he had left forever.
His partner of the time had him move to a clinic; it allowed me to stay with him every day. From the Christmas school break to his death, I didn’t go back to my mother’s home. The reason is simple: I wanted to take all I could, all I had lost during the previous years. I wanted to be there for him, so he could forgive me for all the time I was not. And for the rage I had brooded after he left home, a rage I did not want to let out.
Yet I saw him as he really was. He had never judged nor accused me for undone or unsaid stuff. On the contrary, he collapsed: aware that he was about to die, he admitted all of his mistakes, all of his faults. One day he told me: “At this point, I’d rather die. Because I wouldn’t be able to recover from the disaster I made”. He showed his compliance when he had to face a life that had disenchanted and forced him.
So, I lost my rage and made room for love, trying to give him everything I had within me. I even tried to give him my air when, physically exhausted from chemotherapy, he could barely breathe. Every day I sipped granules of sugar in his coffee which, inevitably, was too bitter for him; little by little, until it reached the least bitter as possible. It’s like when you look for a harmony. Perhaps, this association led me to make room for what was left. It made me hold back what would no longer go away from him.
Harmony – that is the word he used a few days before he died. In his confused and bumpy speech, I understood that harmony is what always accompanies us, in all things. It is music, it is the rhythm of our hearts, it is what we seek, it is what drives us to live, it is what keeps our lives in balance. There is harmony even where there is a mismatch and it is part of something greater, which encompasses body, soul and thoughts.
On the day of his funeral, I tied his shoes – those beautiful shoes he used to wear for his gala evenings at the piano. I stopped and stared at that closing circle of life and made a small gesture that a few years earlier he had taught me.
That day, after giving him my farewell, I went to the dance hall and danced.
Story by Laura Scuderi.
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