Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Update on Leo's health and love

April 2010

I woke up suddenly out of a deep sleep two nights ago. It wasn't by chance -- Leo had at that moment arrived at his family home at the sea's edge. After over a year of being hospital and house bound, he comfortably made the 90 minute car trip, with his brother-in-law driving.

Leo and I have a strong bond, even with the absence of regular phone contact. He has, in the last eight months, gone into remission with the cancer. His back is healing. He takes daily walks, weather permitting.

He has forced himself to make these walks. His doctors have told him, with exercise and activity, his back will recover from the cancer damage to his vertebrae. He wears a back brace during the daytime.

Leo has been fighting another battle these days. This invisible enemy can be seen in his eyes. I saw my nemesis, during our last visit in November: depression and anxiety. I have been hesitant to write of our two encounters because he reads this blog.

In November, I arranged to meet with Leo on a park bench. We had not seen each other since June.

I arrived first. I was both nervous and excited. As he walked toward me, I was happy to see he looked good. He was bundled up for the cold weather. I could not see the back brace as he approached. He was walking without assistance.

He seemed a little anxious, which was very unusual. He sat down beside me, but made no effort to touch me nor did he look at me. I felt a wave of panic rising up in my stomach. I thought, oh no, bad news. But then my heart looked at him.

Instinctively I knew what was wrong: deep depression. His beautiful brown eyes had no sparkle and he would not look directly at me. I was also certain, it had taken great courage for him to come to meet me. I could feel him ready to flee. I knew I didn't have much time, only a few minutes.

I calmed myself, took his hand and spoke quietly. I gently stroked his cheek until he turned to give me brief eye contact. It was fleeting, and I hoped that love would be able to bypass the depression and reach his soul.

After less than 10 minutes he was ready to leave me. He walked away, suddenly stopped, turned and gave me a stiff hug. I was not discouraged, but encouraged. He is a brave courageous man.

A week later, I returned to Firenze, after a trip to see my family in the north. Leo called to say he would like to see me again. This time, I was mentally ready. To my surprise, a smiling Leo meet me, with full sparkling eye contact. He immediately took my hand and didn't let go. We sat and talked for 20 minutes. Then we walked together for 10 minutes. His manner was loving but very quiet.

Five months have passed since November. As the pain medications have been reduced, Leo's mind has become increasing more lucid. He has occupied himself, by writing another book, a fiction novel. Leo has always been an artist, writer and a poet.

During this time, he also compiled his many poems to be print-ready. Last week he reached a big milestone. He ventured into the city, by taking a taxi to a meeting with his editor. He hopes to have both books published.

Over the past 11 years, Leo has written me poems, letters and emails. Even through this illness, we have emailed or talked almost daily. It's less fatiguing for him, so we mostly communicate in Italian, although he has retained his English. I send him a constant stream of everyday pictures of cooking, sunrises, city and home scenes.

My most precious possessions are the love notes he left throughout our little home. Even now, as I open the freezer or check the salt box, I find the messages he hid. Many notes are still in their original locations. As I re-find these treasures, my mood brightens.

I feel his love here with me, everyday.

Today, Leo and I spoke by phone. He is regaining his confidence and his voice sounds more normal. The love we feel for each other is strong and lasting.

This love is reflected in his poems.

La tua voce

La tua voce .... come il fruscio del vento
tra i fiori delle praterie, l'ondeggiare del verde
come il rumore di foglie
di alberi grandi e maestosi di un'oasi
come o scoppiettar di fuochi
di tutti i colori nel buio della notte
come il sorriso di un bimbo
mentre è in braccio della mamma
come l'eterno carezzare dell'onda
dell'oceano sulla sabbia della spiaggia !!

Your voice

Your voice .... like the rustling of the wind
through the flowers of the prairie and its waves of green
like the sound of leaves
of large trees and the majesty of an oasis
like the crackling of a fire
and all its colors in the darkness of the night
like the smile of a child
while in its mother's arms
like the eternal caress of the ocean’s
waves on the sand of the beach!!


Alla mia Musa

Naufrago nei tuoi occhi azzurri
che sono come oceano sotto il sole.
Sprofondo nell'infinito del tuo sguardo
come nel silenzio delle profondità marine.
Divento ... o mia Musa, come un maroso
che si allunga nella grande spiaggia;
salvo, come naufrago fortunato che
dopo lungo viaggio, vivo di nuovo!

To My Muse

Drowning in your blue eyes
which are like ocean under the sun.
Sinking into the infinity of your eyes
as in the silence of the deep sea.
You become ... Oh my Muse, like a breaker
stretching over the wide beach;
I am saved, like a lucky survivor
after a long journey, I live again!

TI AMO Leo Leone

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