I prepare myself before opening the glass door, carrying all the experience and the work I’ve done at university over the last few years. I start breathing heavily. I’m at the entrance of the hospital. I try to be the most positive man in the world. I don’t always find it easy to tell the truth. Indeed, I find it hard considering the nastiness of human beings in a world that is not as I would like it to be, but I know that I will have in front of me a person who needs energy, lite thoughts and enthusiasm. I have to give the best of me, so that she can see exactly what I’m trying to transmit: the beauty of the world. After all I have chosen this. And I couldn’t wait to get to this day and open that door. Another heavy inhale, even stronger. I’m afraid of not being able to pull through, I’m afraid of letting myself go too much, I’m afraid to go into a vortex of emotions that transport me to a deep suffering, perhaps because I’ve already been through this before, and I know what it means to become attached to a person. Share everything with someone is to enjoy, but also to feel pain. It ‘s strange to feel bad about an illness that is not yours, with such intensity. Yet it happens every time to me. Ok I focus. I try not to take too much from my thoughts with emotions that amplify them and the past that confirms them. I uncombed my hair but not too much, otherwise it looks like the one who needs aid is me, I put on a beautiful red nose, and with all my spontaneity. As the elevator door opens, in front of me there is a very bright room with very large windows, four single beds, white, facing each other, the floor bricks are bluish candy. There is peace and silence. I smell a strong scent of wildflowers. One of the beds is all undone. Nearby is a bedside table with a beautiful vase. I was not expecting this environment, this light, this scent, in short, all this, being in a pediatric cancer ward of the hospital in central Naples, my hometown. The room is empty. There is nobody. ‘Bu, I scared you didn’t I?! From under the bed comes out an amused little creature. I was surprised to see such an unusual and unpredictable spirit. I never imagined such a state of mind. ‘She’s ten years old,’ they told me. The cancer is taking her away. She constantly lives under the care of heavy therapy and recovery. I look at her, she’s so small, so fragile in appearance, but inside she hides a force that binds the importance of life to its inexorable fate. Certainly there are no degrees, diplomas or masters that prepare you to certain things. I entered into this experience, now is the time to get my hands dirty and roll up my sleeves, because I want it, because I feel it from inside. Approaching me with her little sweet and dark face, touching the tip of my nose, while nose-to-nose she shares with me her name. Lana. I observe her. She looks like a boy. Not having any hair, wearing a lilac pajama with beige teddy bears; she has an intense and decisive voice. When one has six months to live, one gives importance to the words, the gestures and the essence of dreams. She has beautiful eyes that I’ve never seen before. The color reminds me of a melancholic winter sea, grayish with the green colored stones at the bottom of a pond, which creates reflections from those very stones that have lived long enough to contain the history of the world. The glance, in my opinion, is nothing more than a means of communication between the silent soul and those who stop to listen. Suspended moments.
‘What’s your name?’ Lana is sitting on her bed now. Legs crossed, her elbows on her knees and her small little fists supporting her chin. ‘Onion nose’, I reply. She laughs. ‘No! Not the name that you have when you put on the red nose. I want to know the real one. The one in which your mom, your dad, your friends, your girlfriend calls you.” Her eyes are fixed on mine. ‘You have a girlfriend?’ A slight blush appears on her face. She brings her little hand in front of her face to hide an innocently mischievous smile. ‘My name is Gennaro. And the girlfriend … Well! There’s time. Now I have other things to think about. But I have many friends’. With my mind I search them. Friends? Who are my real friends? Her voice interrupted my thoughts. ‘What are your friends names? Your best friend? What do you like about them?’ Direct questions. Simple. To which it would be enough to just give simple answers, directly. Immediate. But they do not come. My mind gets lost and loses time in chasing names, faces and situations. Lana doesn’t wait for my answer, and says: ‘Sara is my best friend. I miss her so much. We were together every day. She comes to see me when she can. She has beautiful hair. Curly. A laughter that’s contagious and when it starts, I cannot stop. We laugh, we laugh, and we laugh. I have many friends though, but she is special. When there’s Sara, everything is beautiful. When she comes to see me, she shares with me all her experiences. It seems like I’m right there with her, and we can laugh like crazy.’ I listen; I get lost in her words, in her smile, in her eyes that light up. I didn’t even open my briefcase full of games and colored crayons that we should have used together. It all remained there as time flew by.’ Tell me about your best friend the next time you come to see me?’ Sergio! Suddenly I remember Sergio! We were 10 years old, like Lana. We said our goodbyes. See you tomorrow… I open the glass door. Walking along the tree-lined avenue of the hospital. I’m happy and confused. I thought to myself, tomorrow I’ll tell her about Sergio, when … and then I started to laugh as I was walking, and couldn’t stop myself.