RoseMarie Matassa


I come from a long line of strong Italian women. Women who run the show. These women know how to whip up a feast for a hundred people, not only to feed their bellies, but warm their hearts, pray a direct line to Heaven when we need prayers, give the clothes off their back and the food off their plate, and always, always how to keep their family together. Italian women know the secret to family success is throwing a great party where everyone can laugh together. My Great-Grammy always loved a good party. She would thrive in a crowd. It was just her way. That sweet little grin would light up a room when someone new walked in to say hello to her. 

    I told myself that I would take these next two days and celebrate like Gram. Hug and kiss my family, tell all the old stories, wax poetic about the fact that she had almost 99 years on this earth. But, to tell you the truth, I am not doing so well at it. 

    Another great party it is just what we need after the past few weeks. The loss of our Uncle Sal, Grammy’s brother, and now saying goodbye to her too. To bring us all back together again to laugh (and cry). So we can reminisce.

    But I couldn’t sleep last night, or really at all this week. I woke up today with a heavy heart because throughout all of our celebrating one thing is true. I really do have to say goodbye to my Grammy. A woman so loved that even my friends called her Gram. 

    As practical as I can be, I know she was 99, and lived a beautiful life, but I know it will hurt to not have the chance to hug her, to sit with her, and to see love radiate from her. I will miss her so much. So very, very much.

    I’m going to give myself a minute. Then, in true strong woman fashion, I will brush my tears off, put on a dress, and a fresh coat of lipstick (Thanks, Nana). And celebrate with the best of them. 

    My Gram raised a loving, special, crazy stuck like glue family, one of the best damn families I have ever seen. And I thank you for it, Gammy. We wouldn’t be here without you. 

    Love always,

    Aly

    “But you went away, how dare you, I miss you…”


    For the past two days, these lyrics by Miranda Lambert have been stuck in my mind. I’m sad and hurting, even if it is selfish to be so. A dear friend of mine has died, someone unfortunately I haven’t seen in two years while I have been living in Japan, but he was a friend to me for the better part of ten years. I met Burt in my first year of high school, we shared many of the same classes and many of the same friends. Going to a small school, everyone pretty much knew each other, but more than that we were great friends. Burt is that kind of person everyone loved, he always had a smile on his face and a genuinely outgoing personality. Every day, we would laugh our way through Spanish class, I’m pretty sure we called each other by our “Spanish” names even when we weren’t in class. Homecoming dances and birthday parties and school plays it was the kind of friendship that just worked, one you assume will last forever. Once college rolled around, many friendships drifted apart or talked less, but every time I talked to Burt, it was like time hadn’t passed at all. We would often run into each other in Annapolis at the bars or the mall and chat about our lives. There were so many great memories, which makes me feel all the worse now that every time we said, “We have to hang out soon, we have to catch up,” we would go our separate ways until the next time we ran into each other.

    I found out through a Facebook post that Burt had died. With the time and geographical distance no one had a chance to call me or even email me the news. I’m shocked and sad and mad at the universe because I took for granted that I would run into him again or we would talk on Facebook or see each other at the next school reunion. Now, we won’t. That’s what kills me because you always say, “Oh, I should call this person, I should send them an email,” but you don’t because you think that there is always tomorrow. I’m guilty of this all the time with so many of my friends. It’s scary and it’s sad because the truth is life is too short. Pick up the phone now, send that email or that Facebook message, don’t let months go by before reaching out to a friend and checking in, don’t hesitate to tell your loved ones how much they mean to you and that you miss them. Burt was a son, a brother, an uncle and a friend. Don’t let life get in the way, you never know when your last change might be to reach out.  To all my friends and family, I love you. I’m sorry if we haven’t talked. Don’t ever forget I love you all and I’m going to try harder.

    Burt,

    I’m sorry. I’m sorry that we didn’t keep in touch as much as we could have. I’m sorry that we never made on good on that promise to hang out and catch up. I’m sorry that you are not here anymore. I know that you are safe and with your Mom now, but forgive us down here on Earth because we miss you and we are selfish and wish you would have stayed here with us. Rest easy, my friend. You are loved and never forgotten.

    -Aly