While I have dreaded most of the final days in my twenties, there have been two days that I’ve looked forward to for almost two decades.
I grew up knowing we had family in Italy, and I had even met my cousin Cesare and his family during a school trip I made to the country in 1999.
Yet the one person whom I never met was the one person to whom I was most drawn.
Before There Was Internet…
Yes, that’s how I started a story last night.
Such statements are not particularly helping to ease my journey down the final stretch, considering up til this point, I wasn’t overwhelmed with any real ‘I’m getting old’ moments.
So yes, before there was internet, I wrote letters to my cousin in Italy. On major holidays, we would get calling cards to phone overseas but weren’t always successful with such digital sophistication in the 90s.
Once both countries broke into the 21st century, my cousin and I were able to communicate through email for several years. In just a few years, we went from an unpredictable delay between emails to an immediate connection of our worlds through Facebook, Skype and WhatsApp.
Do I Know You?
After 15 years of communicating across 5,000 miles, the wait was finally over. Ilaria and her new husband, Antonio, would be spending two days of their honeymoon just a few miles down A1A in South Beach, Miami.
I’ve always been the social type – (if you’ve ever met me, it’s kind of hard to deny.)
I’ve had many connections and relationships throughout my life with many people from all over the world; some lasted for just two weeks at summer camp, some saw me through four years of college, and some have lasted a lifetime.
Still, I have never felt such an overwhelming connection with someone in just a matter of seconds than I did the first time I hugged my cousin, Ilaria. It was an unreal feeling to be able to physically see, hear and touch mia cugina who always felt so near despite the vast ocean in between.
Genetics Don’t Lie
It didn’t take long for me to realize how much this beautiful woman sitting next to me was in fact, a true DiPanni.
I have three half-sisters whom also bear strong DiPanni characteristics and whose resemblance to Ilaria is almost freaky.
She has the DiPanni curls – dark and soft.
She has the DiPanni hands – distinctively long and slender
She has the DiPanni smile – the high cheeks and hidden upper lip
But most important, she has the DiPanni attitude.
She is a strong woman who is confident in her beliefs and the direction she chooses. Her intelligence is an outstanding compliment to her physical beauty, and no one can stop her on the path she will follow. Still, she is as soft as she is strong, with an enormous heart and warm sense of generosity and kindness to all.
I am proud to say she is mia famiglia.
I’m a true sucker when it comes to parting ways with loved ones, but this was especially hard on the heart.
I had spent just a total of several hours with my cousin and her new husband; and after years of patiently waiting for these days to come, I was not ready to see them go. What had been just a couple evenings together meant a lifetime to me.
Through the sadness of our farewell, I saw the blessing of a family’s love that many people are not so fortunate to experience. I am so very lucky and extremely grateful to have spent this time with my family.
A wise man once told me,
‘It’s never goodbye; always I’ll see you later.’
There is something too definite with the ‘G’ word that is unappealing to me. It signifies a firm ending which is usually unwelcomed.
Life is too short to spend time with those whom you would not want to see later, so don’t make it so certain.
We have many more stories to share and memories to make, my Bella.
And I am very certain that we will see each other soon.
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