But it sure as hell doesn’t feel like it.
For those of you who don’t know, I lost my Nonna to cancer exactly one year ago from this morning. I remember the day like it was yesterday.
I remember waking up at 4 AM. I remember checking my phone. I remember my dad calling me not even five minutes later. And I remember his voice being soft and calm as he told me what I already knew was coming.
I wrote a memorial post later that day that is probably the most personal thing I’ve ever published aside from my first post about the past year on this new website.
I think now, after a year has passed, the shock of everything has subsided. And maybe that’s made it harder. Shock tends to allow you to block off emotions for a little bit, and then once the shock passes, everything hits you all at once.
My Nonna crosses my mind at least once every single day, and most days it’s more than once. Sometimes I go to call her and I can’t, or sometimes I think about going to her house and walking in to see her in the kitchen and giving her a huge hug. I can still remember how that all feels.
I remember watching Italian game shows with her in the living room. Or making sure we changed the channel if we weren’t already on Channel 7 for the Numbers and Win4 drawing. She would write down the numbers every night, without fail. It was just something she did; part of her routine.
I’m so incredibly thankful to have grown up with a woman like her in my life. Someone who traveled from Italy to America on her own because the man she loved sought a better life for them here. Someone who was so strong and so proud of what her family accomplished. She always loved seeing me, my sister, my cousins, or anyone in our little family, and no matter how tired she was, seeing us instantly put a smile on her face.
Someone who was so generous, not only with her wallet, but also with the amount of love she put out into the world. She would spend hours cooking for holidays, making her famous recipes everyone loved so much.
When I moved to Staten Island, I would stop by anytime I was in the neighborhood, usually visiting my friend Alyssa. She would always give us money for lunch, even if we’d already eaten something because then we could use it to get ices if it was the summer, or hot chocolate if it was cooler out.
She was so, so proud of me. Not just in all of my school endeavors, but in who I was as a person. When I first started drawing, she would always say how good my artwork was, despite the fact that I look back now and realize it was absolutely terrible at the time. But she was always my number one supporter.
During baseball season, she would ask me what channel the Mets were on every night in hopes that she would be able to watch them too. And then we would talk about the team and how they played. If they played a horrible game, forget about it. My Nonna wouldn’t hold back. That always put a smile on my face because she took an interest to something I am so passionate about and did her best to understand the game so she could talk to me about it.
Some days are extremely difficult. That’s how life works. Sometimes things that are supposed to serve as distractions really don’t work to do that and instead it feels like your mind is constantly running.
But then I think of my Nonna. And how I know she had difficult days; how she had the strength to push through them. That’s inspiring to me. Everything about her inspired and continues to inspire me.
It makes those extremely difficult days just a little bit easier knowing she’s watching over me. Of course I wish I could have had her physically here the past year. Anyone who has lost a loved one would rather that. I wish she would be around for the holidays. I wish she would be around for me to give her a phone call.
I miss her. More than words can say. But I know she’s watching over me. And I know she would be proud of everything I’ve done so far, and everything I’m trying to achieve. My mom always tells my sister and me how much my Nonna would have loved to see us doing things we’ve loved doing the past year, like my sister and acting in her school show, or me working for a minor league baseball team and writing articles.
And I know how proud she is of my whole family, and how proud she would have been on the lasagna we made last Thanksgiving in honor of her. Her memory lives through us and the lives of the people she touched.
She’s with me every single day. She’s watching over me. She’s my guardian angel.
And let me tell you, she’s a pretty great one.