I am forever sitting upon that wall on Lido, overlooking the pastel blue-green waters of the lagoon. The Riva di Cortino is deserted behind us, but for the occasional passerby. The tall willows and towering oaks deepening the evening shadows. The domes and towers of Venice are golden in the waning hours of the d ay. Slate blue curtains of showers sweep across the mountains silhouetting the mainland. Ana is silent beside me. Her legs are crossed, shoes set beside her where she place them. From a small plastic cup she is sipping red wine we purchased with an awful mix of sign language and badly broken Italian. Closing my eyes I seal this image, the memory, there where it shall remain when I should close my eyes to sleep or to leave this world. There I know it shall greet and comfort and soothe me.
There’s a world within that memory. I can hear the lonesome harbor bells, and the gentle slap of lazy waves against the wall. Lazzaretto Vecchio’s crumbling walls and failing terra cotta roofs all overgrown and green with moss and small trees stands amid the channel not a stone’s through like a soft and solemn mortuary. Ana giggles at the lapping of a small dog which trots and blusters laughably before the owner calls it back.
“Oh, I want it!” she exclaims just above a whisper, and with a certain longing. Ana loves dogs and laments there is no room in our tiny condo and with two gregarious cats. I make a face, which seems to entertain her as much as the little scamp. It’s the first I’ve seen her truly happy since the illness crippled her energy and stumbled her spirit. It haunts at the edges of her expression, but affords her this respite.
Some might wish of heaven from this life, but no heaven could ever compare to this moment. There is breath in my lungs, and the moment is as tentative as a dream. How many, I wonder, over the centuries sat upon this very spot and could count themselves as lucky. I might wonder that forever, but the wine is nearly gone. The wind has come up as well, and with it the scent of rain now moving in across the lagoon. The storm to come that night will fall with fury upon Lido. The wind will gush cold through the green painted wooden shutters of the old villa where we are staying. Ana will draw closer to me, mumbling something about the pelting sheets of rain thrown hard against the villa walls, the cacophony of thunder and the spectacular theatre of lightening. I’m biting my lip, fighting back emotion, recollecting the peace and perfection in her eyes. Indeed, there never was a heaven such as this…