It took me a while to share with you my lovely trip to my family’s homeland, Sicilia. It is partly for the reason that after all these days and weeks, I’m still wrapping my head around what I saw, who I met and the feelings I discovered.
From the moment I first saw that beautiful island from the airplane window, when I met over 15 family members in the airport who all awaited our arrival, to standing on top of one of Sicilia’s numerous mountains overlooking the little town my family grew up in, I felt a love I never knew I could feel for a place. Now miles away, I can still feel the sun on my face, the smell of fresh lemons from my aunt’s trees, the Sicilian language wafting through the air and the mountains. Those tall mountains that I walked along, drove around and stood on. They were the last thing I saw when I left that island, and as I drove past them, I cried. I cried goodbye to them, goodbye to everything I fell in love with in Sicilia. Goodbye to the family I met, some for the first time, others who I’ve known all my life. I whispered sweet goodbyes to my grandfather who passed away 8 years ago, to my great-grandparents, great uncles and aunts, cousins and more. I cried because I didn’t know when I would see any of them again, or if I would ever see them. I had to hold onto the thought that the two weeks I spent with them, would remain with me forever. I took my love for them with me, and the love I have for my sweet Sicilia. I dream about her every now and then, a dream where I escape to my aunt’s kitchen where she and her sisters sit around the wooden table talking, to losing myself in a field of lemon trees, jumping in the crisp blue water and standing on top of those mountains. To me, that is what I envision heaven to be like.
When I said goodbye to Sicilia, I told myself to never forget that this is your home, that it lives in every part of you. That from this place, your family grew and flourished and gave you a chance at a better, fulfilling life. That here in Sicilia, even in its ugliest, is a rich love that reaches miles and miles and lives in my heart. Today, every time I think of that island, my heart flutters and I can see the sun and feel it. I hope to never lose that and to never forget what it felt like to be there.
Till we meet again my sweet Sicilia,
I love you, I love you, I love you. Ci vediamo.