Sunday, February 20, 2011

February 20

I haven't, couldn't write for the last month. Leo's left leg had been getting weaker and weaker until finally he could no longer use it. His back pain, which had been getting worse and worse has finally been diagnosed: another cancerous tumor in the same area of his back. To me, his symptoms were the same as two years ago. Again, it's incredible and not believable to me that he suffered and nothing was done. 'Patience' was the word he increasingly wrote to me. And...'tomorrow will be better.'

I so want to blame someone, the system, the family, the doctors. He has no advocate. Weird, because when I looked up this word in my dictionary, attorney is the translation for advocate.

Leo is in the hospital now, after finally getting a doctor appointment with a neurology specialist. When the doctor saw him, he immediately put Leo into the hospital. After a radiation treatment to the tumor, his back pain has finally been relieved. Now, with physical therapy work, they hope he will regain use of his leg. They've started a chemo-therapy, using a stronger drug mixture. This multiple myeloma is a tricky illness.

Yesterday, I attended my 5th of 10 Italian lessons at the Italian Cultural Institute. Our topic this Saturday was the Puccini opera "Tosca." I love my Italian lessons, because our teacher Michele (from Rome) has created a class which focuses on Italian culture. The class is taught entirely in Italian.

Yesterday, after reviewing parts of Tosca, he asked each of us, "Are you the jealous type?" When his glance reached mine, he nodded, saying "Yes, you are, true?" I responded with "si". I argue with myself constantly about this feeling I have now in my life. I have never been a jealous person. Never.

Now I feel jealousy...not envious, but jealous. How totally unfair for me to be jealous of the woman who Leo has been married to and on whom he is now dependent, even to point of having his shoes tied.

But, I'm not sure if jealous is the correct word. I feel anger mostly that I cannot take care of Leo. I want him to feel the caress of love on his forehead when he doesn't feel well. I want to hold his hand when he feels pain. I want to call the doctors and force them to allow him to make an appointment. Where Leo's health is involved, I want action not patience.

Leo and I had a phone conversation last week. I told him I read, study, watch Italian films, always searching for the "perche' ", the WHY? Why are we not together?

The concept of family in the American culture is so different from the Italian version. In the US, we tend to think that by the age of 18, children should on the verge of independence. It marks the time when children normally leave their parent's home, either by working or going to school. I found a quote on-line saying the strong Italian family ties were originally created to protect the members of the family. The structure and loyalty would always assure that no one would be alone during times of crisis.

I told Leo, his concept of family seems to me, exactly like he concept of Mafia. To him, loyalty to the family is first and no individual is more important than the family. Self sacrifice.

I tend to believe this rigid idea is not wide-spread in Italy. Granted, my "research" is based on observing my own Italian family in the north, watching several hundred Italian made films and reading books written by Italian authors.

I remember a conversation I had with Leo many years ago about Christmas. I thought it would be wonderful to celebrate a Christmas together. Absolutely impossible he told me, because his only child, a 30+ year old married son, did not want any change from the Christmas traditions he had grown up with. Everything has to be the same. At the time, I wondered to myself, how his new wife would react to this. I thought, surely, she must have some traditions she would like to follow.

If it were possible to not remember our times together, and not still "see"  Leo sitting across from me, feeling his foot touching mine under the table, skin to self-protection mode would kick in and I would run away from this impossible situation.  But, I can't. I love Leo. I love Leo's mind, his personality and his soul.

Daily, I mentally work to accept the fact that we have no control over our future together.
Chocolate is a big comfort to me. Luckily for me, I don't like alcoholic beverages!