COUNTRY OF PROVENANCE
For Cristina, there is an analogy between the experience of cancer – which she experienced firsthand – and that of covid19: life like before can no longer be lived.
Mom, dad and two daughters, one 17 and 20 years old already married with a child, living on a single-income. They arrived to Milan from rural Romania and found themselves homeless.
Always in quarantine, Andrea and Giuliana: in health and sickness
What was it like experiencing the lockdown when you were already in quarantine before? Andrea and Giuliana have lived in an almost complete quarantine for about a year, but also the three before have been quite lonely. In 2016 Andrea was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, he was less than 60 years old and still felt “young” and in full swing, but something in him began not to work.
Visits, doctors, general family disbelief, checks on checks to understand how to stem the disease. And then all the thoughts of denial, the emotional ups and downs, the sense of defeat, powerlessness, anger followed. Anger is a bizarre emotion, it loads you with energy that can destroy or accumulate inside you until it burst, but even more often it is a mask of pain, because it is the pain that appears acute when you get the diagnosis for a degenerative disease from which there is no cure.
Initially the hope was that of a slow course of the disease, Parkinson’s patients can live in good conditions even for about ten years. They then bought a new camper, because they were sure of one thing: Andrea and Giuliana would have liked to spend their old age traveling, just as they had spent every free moment during their whole life together.
The disease at a gallop
They managed to make only a few short trips, because very soon Andrea was no longer able to drive. Giuliana continued to insist as long as she could: they went to Sicily, Portugal, Sardinia. She took care of everything because Andrea became less and less self-sufficient. The moments of extreme love alternated with those of anger towards a person who was beginning to no longer recognize the love of his life.
I met them one summer evening, Giuliana made Andrea were playing Scarabeo and he composed very complicated words, the one he composed at that moment was “schematically”. I looked at them through the light of the window, it was the sunset. Taking care of Andrea for Giuliana has become a full-time job and for me what is between them is pure love, of those who are rarely seen around.
We could be confused by thinking that Giuliana is the only one to show love with the constant care for Andrea, and instead not, even in the midst of the disease that has now taken away almost all his ability to speak, sight and movement, Andrea whispers, he squeezes, smiles with his eyes and when Giuliana asks him: “What rating do you give to your life?”, he always replies showing with his fingers “eight”. Andrea’s head and heart are there, the body is acting up.
Quarantine in the quarantine
When the coronavirus started, Giuliana was very worried and almost completely stopped going out. If she had caught the virus, he could have passed it on to Andrea and in his condition such an influence could have been very dangerous, as much as a possible hospital entry.
In the last few months Andrea’s condition has worsened, but all medical visits were blocked, as was the one to obtain the accompanying allowance. The bureaucracy has practically stopped and for people in such a fragile state, even a few months really make a difference!
Other than that, Andrea and Giuliana’s life during the lockdown hasn’t changed much, because they continued to stay at home as they did before. For two travelers like them, this change of life was initially painful and the challenge was to find a new sense of freedom even in the confinement they live on a daily basis.
Find freedom within yourself
Giuliana and Andrea find their freedom in their memories, in the thousand adventures they have experienced: from climbing in the mountains, to cycling in Scotland, to buying a Westfalia, to traveling with children. They have never waited to live, they have always lived fully and now that life has put them in front of this pain, they face it without regrets for what it could have been, because it is just the way it is.
In their home there is no lack of smiles, tenderness, joy. Small things have a fundamental importance, such as when Andrea still sleeps in the morning and Giuliana can take care of her plants and take tea, or in the evening when Andrea falls asleep and Giuliana lights a candle and reads a book in her favorite corner of the house or just looks through the window.
Looking at life with irony even in the most tragic situations, enjoying the present, being grateful for what we have, taking care with tenderness and without demanding anything in return, loving each other so much in health and in illness … these are just some of the things I have deeply recognized being with them that today are also my family. And to see their dream continue, this summer they will borrow to Luca and myself their camper and we will carry them around with us with pride, in our hearts and thoughts. Thanks for welcoming me!