This continues Olivia's story from First Kiss...
Non so dove trovarti
Non so come cercarti
Ma sento una voce che
Nel vento parla di te
Quest' anima senza cuore
The girl turned over in her sleep; a fitful exercise in futility which left her feeling exhausted at nearly every day break. She woke and sat up quickly and winced; the remnant of a pulled muscle after stretching too fast after rising too quickly out of a nightmare the previous evening. She cried out and then quickly put her hand over her mouth, fearing that she’d wake her little brother and her mom. The thoughts had plagued her nightly, and she struggled to overcome the feelings of worthless existence that so often beset girls like her.
“Honey?” A voice spoke quietly and she turned to find her mom holding two mugs of tea; a new if entirely painful but necessary ritual for the two of them.
“Mom…” She melted; you know that feeling you get of helplessness after vowing you wouldn’t cry? The face or the sound of someone whose very presence gives you permission to cry? Her mom placed the tea on the nightstand and sat down on the bed and embraced her. She leaned into her mom’s hug and wept softly, feeling both at home and an alien by crying. Sad and painful harm to self-esteem can do that; she knew she was ‘allowed’ to cry, but something inside her felt inauthentic and that part of her that still remained of her past told her that ‘boys’ don’t cry. Two lies in three words. Boys indeed do cry, of course. But also she wasn’t a boy any longer. She never really ‘was’ a boy, in a manner of speaking.
Tony Benedetto kept watch and protected and lived through the first fifteen or so years of their life, but he was only a part of who the girl had been; the part that was Olivia had struggled to emerge from the cocoon they shared; finally appearing several months before their sixteenth birthday. Her therapist had helped her at least integrate that part that was Tony; also coaxing her to accept how wonderful and blessed a part of her life Tony had been and always would be. It really was Olivia that she struggled to accept; the part of her who was more of her than she had realized but knew deep inside…the core whom both of them had been. But nearer the surface, the image was distorted like some perverted real-life funhouse mirror, and made her question her own existence; the ’that can’t be me’ that accused her every night.
And then, like the title of the old movie it was ‘suddenly last summer!’ Not only was a new-found confidence in her gender awakened, but real feeling of worth driven by the attention of a boy; a boy whom she wanted to remember and at the same time labored to forget. She finally was coming to the place where she could look in the mirror and say, ‘that is me!’ But now it was, ‘it can’t be me he likes.’ His initial acceptance was thrown down and shattered into pieces; as fragile as she was, it confirmed her fears that she indeed was inauthentic.
But then he saw her again; his vision altered through the prism of the pain she bared to him. A pain that was all-too similar to his own loss; both of them fatherless. Where Tony had sought and failed to find his father’s approval before his parents’ divorce, Matt had received and treasured his father’s love and acceptance before his father’s death. Two empty places in hearts much more alike than either could ever admit.
Olivia looked at her mother; the pleading eyes that had been so out of place on Tony’s face were just what anyone might have expected when they got to know the insecure girl. Alicia Benedetto had always loved her elder child, but their relationship, strained though it had been for so long, had grown closer than ever when she discovered that Carlo, the younger of her two children, was the only boy in the family.
“First loves…so much joy when they begin and so much pain when they end.”
She sighed and pulled Olivia closer; kissing her on the forehead. Hardly a ‘love’ at all; the seed had been planted hastily as things go, and the first kiss was quickly followed by the first rejection. Perhaps if they just found they weren’t meant for each other it might have hurt less. Perhaps if he never had kissed her, it would surely never have hurt.
But the renewal…the words that said ‘I’m sorry’ fused irrevocably with the ‘second’ kiss; it hurt more because she lost more when they parted. Hope that maybe she was real withered and was dying on the vine for lack of any nurture. Her mother’s words of encouragement might have been good soil for the hope that had begun, but without another to water her heart, that hope would surely die. She leaned into her mother’s breast and cried harder than at any other time in her life.
Most mothers with daughters would face the same dialogue and the same consolation almost the same way.
"Yes, honey, it hurts, but we all go through it, and it will get better.”
Reassurances that rang hollow because while Alicia could understand what it was like to lose someone when love died or never grew, she had no way of knowing what it was like when self succumbed to guilt and shame and feelings of foolish beliefs. “Yes, honey, it will get better?” When she had no idea what it was like to doubt one’s very heart and soul. She knew her daughter was a girl; that was plain to her, even if she had arrived perhaps somewhat late to that conclusion. Now what she faced was the daunting task of affirming her child’s self image while consoling her daughter’s loss.
“Yes, honey, we all go through it; even girls who started life as boys. But it will get better?” She pondered that idea silently; Alicia was at a loss for the ‘right’ words, and prayed they would finally come to her even as she held Olivia in her arms.
“Mommy?” Olivia pled once again; no need for any other word. She hadn’t used that name since she was eleven when she came home after her best friend called her a name best left unsaid. The barely confident, nearly sixteen-year-old was little again; feeling small in age and stature. Alicia’s soft cries echoed her daughter’s sobs and she placed her hand on Olivia’s chin.
“Honey? Olivia?” The gesture alone had gotten the girl’s attention, but the firm yet quiet and resolute tone gained her daughter’s hope.
“You are so precious to me, and I thank god I have such a beautiful daughter.” A simple statement, but novel. Alicia had said ‘I love you,’ in many ways and often enough, but it was the first time she said the word ‘daughter’ to Olivia. The girl looked her in the eyes, blinking back tears. It was probably one of the best early birthday presents anyone ever could get; to affirm her worth and identity, and Olivia threw her arms around her mother; she shook almost convulsively, but it was a moment that was overwhelmingly joyous, no matter how much hurt that might remain, and it was their moment. A moment that both would remember as defining as anything in either of their lives.
Alicia looked Olivia for the first time in a different light; even in holding her like she was still a little child, the past had been remade, and it was her little girl she held. Not only a little girl, but a girl that was destined to grow beyond the moment, and have the same heartaches over a boy that any other girl might have who longs for love…that first crush…and all the pain and foolish hope that first crush contains. The boy, Alicia imagined, would only be the first of several until Olivia found that one real, true love of her life. Little did she know how true that would come to be and how quickly that would come to pass.
She sighed and smiled even as the last of her present tears trickled down her cheek. It was only then that she felt confident that she would be able to help mend the heart that had been inevitably broken over a first fleeting crush, knowing with assurance that her daughter would finally come to know that she truly was her daughter.
“Precious, Olivia! My baby!”
Le notti senza pelle
I sogni senza stelle
Immagini del tuo viso
Che passano all' improvviso
Mi fanno sperare ancora
Che ti trovero
I don't know where to find you
I don't know how to reach you
I hear your voice in the wind
I feel you under my skin
Within my heart and my soul
I wait for you
All of these nights without you
All of my dreams surround you
I see and I touch your face
I fall into your embrace
When the time is right I know
You'll be in my arms
Words and Music by
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