By Beatrice Maresca / Contributor
I remember when it began, and I hope I’ll remember when it will end too. I remember my stomach aching preventing me from eating because I felt like it increased my anxiety even more – it nourished it. I remember wondering if anyone noticed I was eating less, or that I had bags under my eyes, as grey as clouds full of rain. I remember failing to lie at one point. I remember I couldn’t anymore be myself anymore, hence spoke. Waking up, I used to see the sky as dark as if it was night, but from that day on, I remember waking up with the sky being inch by inch a little lighter.
I remember that, once I began, I never feared speaking, intentionally narrating those awful chronicles to exorcise the worm that was eating up my stomach. Ironically, once I began, my stomach stopped aching and that worm stopped devouring, hence I could eat without feeling a wrecking ball pushing on my duodenum, and muriatic acid scorching the walls of my belly.
Even though I spoke, I remember mama telling me she did not want to tell nonna, or she would have worried more than enough. But we live in the same place, and she noticed it by herself. She never asked me how I felt and, most importantly, she never asked me why, because she knew I wished I knew. I remember she did not use conventional ways to express she was by my side, because she knew my belly would start aching. But I remember, as vividly as it was now, the day after she knew, taking her call and hearing her saying “ti ho fatto la parmigiana, a nonna.”
I remember I understood she knew better than anyone else and that she could not find a more precious way to hold my hand tight even without touching it. Only after a dish of parmigiana, she knew she could ask me how I felt, learning it was an effortless way to put a smile on my face. No worm devouring my stomach and no wreaking balls nor muriatic acid were attempting to destroy my belly. I had no anxiety nor the wish to cry.
For a couple of hours, sitting at the table with her and listening to the bites-of-old-time stories she told me was a breath of fresh air, and those grey clouds opened a snippet to reveal a light blue sky. Now I can cry still remembering to dance, now I can suffer still remembering to share, now expressing means exorcising, and I now know that when it’ll end, it’ll happen in front of a parmigiana.