After heading home, I walk up the stairs of my house and into the second room on the right. It's completely empty, except for boxes and boxes of my parents' things. I kept all of their paperwork and files, and some of my mother's clothes and jewelry. Also my father's baseball card collection and his New York Yankees jersey. I close my eyes for a moment trying to keep my breath steady as the pain slashes against my ribcage. I'd never see them again. My dad would never again cook me pasta alfredo after a hard day's work at the construction site, saying, "Eh, bella, what do you think? Too much cream? Not enough?" I'd then assure him, of course it was perfect, and of course he was the best cook in the world (second only to my Grandma Tessa). My mother would never again wink at me and say in mock horror, "Why in the world did I marry an Italian man? I'm never going to stop gaining weight!" Then of course, she'd grab a second helping and not gain an ounce on her slender frame.
I grew up in NYC with my parents, an only child. I was raised in the Catholic Church and completely spoiled by my dad's parents, who immigrated to America in the 1950s from Italy. My dad was born here, and was Italian first, New Yorker second. My mother, on the other hand, was born in the Midwest, in a family of German and British descent, and moved to New York when she was 22, working as a secretary for a big construction firm, where my dad worked as an architect. We moved to D.C. when I was ten, though I never understood why, and Grandma Tessa moved here shortly after, leaving after Grandpa Giacomo's death. In my junior year of college, Grandma Tessa died from a heart attack, and that left me all alone. My mom's parents died before I was born, and all my cousins and uncles and aunts on my mother's side I wasn't very close to. My father had dozens of siblings, but after our move to DC, none were on speaking terms with him. To be perfectly honest my family was kind of, well, cryptic. Like there was some big secret they were all hiding. Or at least, had been- I was going to figure it out.
Which was exactly why I grabbed their paperwork and files.