Months To Years Spring 2018 Months To Years Spring 2018 - Page 26

Some new-age thinkers say that time is relative , like families . Past , present , future all take place in the same concurrent moments in non-linear time , so that families are ever present . We just don ’ t see them . As though we have a hundred faces , our “ selves ” are connected to spirits living in different but connected planes . Sofia ’ s greatgrandmother existing in a space not entirely unreachable .
My daughter has taught me that this posit is true ; I have never given up thinking that Sofia ’ s great-grandmother breathes through her . I have never given up thinking that with the right clothes and attitude , I will always be strong willed , forever the pack mule . Climbing the stone steps in the school building in that moment , my mind projected me to times when I carried my Nonna ’ s jars and laundry from the basement ; when Nonna recounted how she had carried her first child the duration of his five years of life , how she had fetched , with him on her arm , his prescription for aqua vitae at the pharmacy during Prohibition ; how she had been carrying his photos in her wallet since he was born in 1932 .
The pictures never left her — even after her wallet got stolen .
“ I cried for weeks ,” she told me as a pre-teen , “ till my wallet showed up in the mail one day — without the money of course . Someone must have dropped it in the mailbox . All was there , my driver ’ s license , my credit cards , but most importantly , Alberto ’ s pictures . He was telling me , ‘ stop crying , Mamma , I am still with you .’”
And then , there we all were , climbing the school stairs together : the dislocated , typically dysfunctional family of the teen , great-grandmother , the 20-want-to-benearing-50 , the uncle never-met , the bundled spirits , cancers past and present . My grandmother was suddenly telling me what to pack for Sofia ’ s lunch for the next day — which jar to fetch from the basement .
Over one hundred years ago , Stephen Crane wrote :
A man said to the universe , “ Sir , I exist !” “ However ,” replied the universe , “ The fact has not created in me A sense of obligation .”
I can ’ t say that I agree , especially as he wrote during my grandmother ’ s lifetime . I still think that the universe must have given my daughter a tumor by mistake . That is why her great-grandmother pipes up through her , telling her to carry her lunch box with the same dignity of the 60-year-old family matriarch who used to wear deep red lipstick . That is why her great-grandmother helps her not to be daunted by the looks she gets from other students , especially those who don ’ t have the time to even consider offering to carry her heavy backpack for her . The pasta-rolling , book-choosing , art-creating — those are all gifts bestowed to seal the common bonds which keep the family together even when torn apart — to stay in touch — and to keep my daughter going , to live beyond the boundaries she faces now .
We passed more teenagers through the hallway . They , too , looked past my daughter . Sofia smiled between two scarves . In my mind , I spoke softly to Stephen Crane in his other plane , not to hurt his feelings , ‘ without us , no one will know the universe .’ I opened the classroom door , dropped my daughter ’ s backpack , and released her the same way I sent her off on her first day of school ages ago .
Giulianna Nenna is a writer whose work has appeared in Offshoots ; Gyroscope Review ; Susan B & Me ; Italy , a Love Story ; Every Day Fiction ; and Airplane Reading ; among others . She set up her office at the children ’ s hospital , where she worked full time during the day , while her daughter ’ s treatment was carried out in the neighboring bed . At night , she studied for a second master ’ s degree to stave off insomnia . She does not recommend this approach to other parents ,
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