Life Can Change in an Instant

Cleveland's Little Italy by Viktor Schreckengost Cleveland's Little Italy by Viktor Schreckengost

Nella vita di ognuno di noi capitano avvenimenti che in qualche modo ci cambiano la vita. A volte essi sono positivi: l’incontro con una persona amata, una amicizia inaspettata, la nascita di un figlio. A volte, purtroppo, sono negativi o traumatici: un lutto, un incidente, un lavoro perso, la diagnosi di una malattia. È naturale che queste circostanze portino a sentirci temporaneamente spaesati ed impauriti, ma sono al contempo esperienze che fanno crescere ed insegnano ad apprezzare l’importanza degli affetti familiari ed i piccoli momenti di gioia che la  vita offre quotidianamente. 

This past June, I was so eager when I found out that I would have the opportunity to travel to Italy for a vacation accompanied by my mother and grandmother. Italy was a place of my dreams and I was beyond grateful to be given the chance to visit the beautiful country.

Together, my mom, grandma and I visited five towns in Italy and Sicily and although the trip was amazing, we were ready to get back home by the time it came to an end. On the last morning of our stay, I prepared for the flight home. However, the peaceful morning quickly turned into one of the scariest days of my life. For, that same morning, my grandmother suffered a severe stroke and was rushed to the local hospital in Rome. My mother and I were left stranded in a foreign country with little help as my grandmother battled a life-or-death situation.

When that last morning took a turn for the worst, the impact was felt immediately. I witnessed the most heartbreaking thing in my life that morning. I was the one who found my grandma in her room hours after the worst of the stroke had occurred. My mother and I resorted to panic as our first instinct, but I was well-aware that it was necessary for us to both remain calm. My mom was ultimately left by herself to communicate with the doctors and paramedics, who spoke little to no English, since I was just a kid. 

During the whole situation, I witnessed how my mother brought out the most selfless side of her that I had ever seen. She powered through many sleepless nights, futile conversations with the doctors and watched as her own mother lay severely ill in a foreign country. She struggled to remain calm. Seeing my mom persevere through the hardest time of her life encouraged me to reevaluate myself.

This experience caused me to grow up within a matter of minutes. At first, I was left terrified for whether or not we would make it back home safely. However, I put my individual concerns aside in order to remain strong to support my mom and grandma. There was no one else there for them besides me. I felt that it was my duty to be the one who was calm and collected when no one else was. 

At one point, my mom and I did not know what was going to result from this hospital stay, but knew it was necessary to be each other’s rocks in order to be there for my grandma. I would never wish this experience on anyone, although it left a positive impact on me. This event led me to truly understand how important family is to me and how valuable life is. I was forced to see that life really could be taken away in an instant. This experience is unforgettable and will follow me through life, reminding me of how important it is to remain calm in certain situations and to never take life for granted. 

Marisa Biondolillo is a Junior at Willoughby South High School. This essay was an assignment for the school’s Honor Roll and was submitted to La Gazzetta by Marisa’s grandfather, Joe Tutolo of ISDA.