I don’t even know how to begin to say what I have experienced over the last few days. It was a love beyond what the word love can fully capture. There should be another word for that. It was very intimate … and precious and heartbreaking and something I will never forget for as long as I live.
Jedi’s best friend, Jedi Gino, left us today. His 10 year old body held a soul bigger than it could have possibly held, but it did. I’m sure the papers will say that our GIno lost his battle to cancer today, but I can tell you that’s not true. The cancer won the battle with Gino’s little boy body, but his soul won the war. The war that tried to take over his and his family’s life, but it didn’t take his life. That boy was full of life. As I think of him now, that’s what strikes me still. The way he lived his life in the face of such a horrible disease. The treatments, the testing, the waiting, the way it ravaged his body. But Gino did not go quietly into a dark night. He left us surrounded by family and on a beautiful sunny day on a breeze.
My Jedi spent the last couple days at his friend’s side, playing with Star Wars actions figures. He would place a figure in Gino’s hand and direct it like a puppeteer with one hand, while using his other hand to animate his own. He would also tell him funny stories about Gino’s little sister being in love with him, or something that had happened at school, or even a private joke among themselves. He would place a Republic Guard action figure in his hand anytime he would need to leave. I could not think of anything more appropriate and it brought tears of complete pride to my eyes to watch. This was being a friend. This was fighting the battle the way Gino wanted to fight. Working around the limitations, but always working, always continuing to do exactly what they wanted to do.
When the hospice nurse leaned down to me and whispered that she thought my Jedi should say his goodbyes. I took Jedi onto my lap, on the floor right next to the bed and told him that it was time to say good-bye. He placed the guard back into his friend’s hand and then he leaned over and kissed him on the head, told him he loved him and told him that was ok for him to go. That he would always stick around and be there for his family. I kissed Gino’s head and told him how proud I was of him and how brave he was and that I would take care of Mom. I walked around the bed and hugged his father and kissed him on the check telling him that I loved him and then I embraced his mother as she sat in a chair, letting her go before we both broke into a sob.
The Jedi and I went into the next bedroom and sat on the bed, hugging in silence, but we didn’t cry. We had just witnessed a battle fought with valor and now that it was over, we were just in awe. Then Jedi got up and walked over to the window. He said, “Look at the sky, Momma.” I walked over to see for myself that the clouds has feathered out right over the house. A beautiful parting of the heavens to welcome their brave Jedi Gino home. Then my Jedi smiled and said, “The angels are coming now. It’s time for Gino to go with Jesus, Momma.” And with that he turned and walked out of the room and outside to where all of Gino’s cousins were playing. I sat down on a bench next to my husband and Gino’s Zito. I didn’t say a word. I really had none for what I had just experienced and I felt the need to protect it and hold onto it as long as I could in that moment.
A few minutes later the hospice nurse walked out onto the back porch and announced that Gino had in fact passed, probably just at the moment that my Jedi said he did.
I went to pull Jedi aside and tell him the news. It was the first time he cried. It was brief, but it contained all it needed to. He asked Gino’s Nonna if he could go see him one last time. We were allowed back into the room where my Jedi removed the guard from his friend’s hand and just held on. The hospice nurse was kind enough to offer him a canvas. She brushed paint onto both of their palms, Jedi decided that Gino’s should be red (his favorite color) and reaching down and Jedi’s blue (his favorite) reaching up. That was his idea and I have to tell you that as I sit here looking upon it, I see it exactly as he did.
They’ll always be connected, continuing to fight the dark side of cancer with The Force of love, but slightly out of reach.