I turn on the car. I pull the handbrake, get out and help my mother load the shopping bags, she holds the baby. He is my brother but he calls me ‘Uncle’. He is three years old. We get in the car, I start to leave when he caresses my arm and tells me: “How strong are you Uncle”
I often forget that I am already grown up. I am thirty years old and yet sometimes it does not seem real to me that I have arrived here. I don’t think I’m a teenager, mind you. It is simply that by living, I remove past time from my mind. What I did, how much I suffered. And how all this has changed my way of thinking: thoughtful, calculated and sometimes not very spontaneous. Time passes, between life lessons and the results you manage to achieve. I look into my brother’s eyes and I remember well how I felt at his age. I saw the “grown-ups”, strong and sure of them, who were doing something all day. Mom always cleaned the house, then worked, checked me. Dad was always at work, from morning to night. They seemed invincible to me and at the same time scared me. When I was little I was very afraid of working, of giving up playing and having responsibilities. I was afraid of being big.
But time passes, it runs fast between our commitments and our promises. And it is not always said that one has to grow, go through those “obligatory steps”. I thought that grownups always had the answers in their pockets, that when they argued they were always right. When my father left home I cried, I didn’t understand. I did not know the weight of betrayal, I did not know how much it could hurt a man, even an adult. I could have judged it. I certainly couldn’t understand it. Maybe I can’t even today, not completely. When I saw my mom cry, I didn’t know what the word “depression” meant. She probably didn’t know either.
Even if you don’t want time to pass, fly lightly between unspoken words and things you naively think you understand. I had stopped talking to the grown-ups, I looked for easy answers where it suited me most to receive them quickly. I made so many mistakes and suffered like a dog before I stopped. I did not have the right answer but I could not ask for a hand, having the belief that the way of life of others was not right for me. Different, wrong. “Broken”. This was me: a badly born boy. I had come close to losing everything, I had almost made up my mind. In the end I closed my eyes, I chose to listen. To understand how to heal that distrust, that anger, and how I could grow up.
Sometimes you don’t believe it anymore, but when time passes among things, it somehow closes those wounds, writing poetry on your skin. Sometimes they are scars, sometimes they are wrinkles, looks or ways of seeing the world. It smoothes and shapes you based on your choices and the people you meet. San Patrignano was time well spent, a fundamental place and experience that shaped my dreams, giving me the means to build an adult who has his place in the world. Here I am today, for the first time “in verification” at home, after three and a half years. I made plans, I worked on myself. I worked hard to build this coherent version of me. Yet it was enough to go home, to have these scars caressed by the hand of a child, my brother. To remind me of what’s behind my armor.
Time does not pass to take things away from you, but to bring new ones. Sometimes you let some of these go away, out of pride or superficiality, other times you take pieces from the world and build that adult self that can allow you to live. It is not easy to take the right pieces, so I learned to speak, ask, listen to others and my heart. But the more I look into your eyes, my brother, the more I realize that that child inside of me is still under there. Today I can drive, pay bills, I got my diploma. I have strong arms like my dad’s, a confident way of speaking, like mom. But I don’t know everything about the world. I’m still afraid, so many insecurities. It also happens to me to think, in the evening, when I’m in bed and I feel alone. I miss feeling protected by mum and dad, I miss playing with brothers and cousins. I don’t know if you would understand such a thing. Usually, if you can’t explain something to a child, it means that you don’t understand it well, either. I look at you and smile, thinking about what your caress reminded me of. I want to be great for you, for the people who love me and who expect something from me. Because I too expect a lot from this new life. I will never forget who I am, this time not. It is wrong to believe that you are invincible. We are nothing more than children who have passed through time. I’ll be there for you, my brother, today I feel ready to live. But always remember: it is not true that grown-ups never cry.
Taken from “Sanpanews – Voci per crescere” N ° 65 February 2022
To Find out more: https://www.sanpatrignano.org/sostienici/sanpanews-voci-crescere/