You have to love your family. A family is more than DNA, it's shared meals, shared laughter and shared feelings. This is what every child hears when growing up. Family comes first, no matter what. Family comes first.
But there is something about her, something that was beyond the family connection. It might have started in the early childhood years when we spent the summers in the countryside...unless is a familiarity that existed before being born.
You read books and see movies that depict eternal love. You listen to songs and during those couple of minutes, you truly believe that it has to be something more. You read a short poem and you're sure there is truth there. It has to be. True love exists. It is an energy that survives time and space. True love is and always will be.
And there are moments in life when someone comes along and tells you one sentence that keeps the love alive. It happened a million times, but there is one memory that keeps coming back to me. I remember the moment so precisely, that I go back there whenever I need to. It might sound peculiar, but I feel like I can teleport back in time. I can see us two, together, in the hospital courtyard. There were more people around us, but they are all blurry in my memory. But us two - Cristina and me - is like a photograph that has an extra sharpen effect.
"It was painful to see her like this, but I am not ready to let her go. It's too hard for me." And once the first tear broke free, the rest followed in an unbroken stream. Cristina came close to me, putting her left arm around my shoulders and said in a soothing voice:"We are never ready, Ioana." I wanted to scream, I wanted to slap her and tell her that she doesn't understand, that it's not her mom we are talking about. But her love was bigger than my pain, I hugged her back and time stood still. I could no longer think, move, or speak. I was standing there, next to her. In that moment, that was all that I needed.
A few days later, when we were back in my hometown and Cristina came to say goodbye to my mom for good, I saw her holding a copy of a famous painting. "So she has art next to her. She will always be the artist of our family." I was numb and couldn't understand her gesture. I wanted to scream at her again "This is not how we do it. You don't understand. You can't just put things in a coffin. This is not how the tradition is. You don't get it!!" But I couldn't say anything out loud - and with just a look, she understood all my pain. She smiled at me and added. "It's ok, she'll always be part of our life. I promise you. You're safe. And remember that I love you." I hugged her and cried, not knowing how much impact this will have in the years to come.
There is no getting-over-a-loss. As time passes, you don't erase the suffering. You learn how to live with it. And every year, in October, I need to do something that is art related. I visit a museum, I go to a concert, I read something about a painter. I look at the sky and pray.
"There's art everywhere and love will never die."
This is what she said.