I See My Son In Music
This post is best read while listening to "Piccola Stella Senza Cielo" by Ligabue.
I haven't written a blog post in a long, long time. It took an awful headache, one so bad that forced me to drop everything I was doing and seek refuge under the duvet, and a quiet Saturday afternoon at home on my own to provide the perfect (so to speak) setting for some very much-needed writing. Most of all, it took a strong, utterly unexpected sign from Luca, that left me gobsmacked and emotionally drained.
It was as though he was knocking on our front door and saying "Hey mamma, we haven't spoken in a while. I'm here. I'll always be here. Are you there, too?" Yes, my little love, I will be forever here even if life seems to be pushing and pulling me in all directions. Your face is crystallised in my mind.
Impossible to ever forget, your memory remains so vivid. Your tiny, lifeless body is still there in front of my eyes, and my eyes still fill with tears very, very often. Even almost three years later, I think about you every single day, without fail, many, many times over.
But let's go back to the sign. Last night, I was going through Federico's bedtime routine as usual. Bath, teeth, books, and some songs in his rocking chair.
I joke with Daniel that we have our little repertoire: I sing one song by Francesco De Gregori, one by Roberto Vecchioni, sometimes a ballad by Ministri, and a couple of Spanish songs. Federico absolutely adores our bedtime concerts, and so do I. Last night, completely out of the blue, I began singing a song that I hadn't listened to or even thought about, in something like 15 years.
It's by a famous Italian singer who goes by the name of Ligabue (that's actually his last name). I used to like him as a teenager, but I was never obsessed with him or his music. I always found his songs very relatable and pleasant to sing, often acting as the soundtrack to our bored, hot, summer nights, driving fast through the desert countryside around my hometown.
When Federico fell asleep, I sat on the sofa and, for the first time in weeks, I slowly, patiently, and carefully sorted out Luca's "secret garden". Federico touches it and moves it almost on a daily basis, so all the tiny furniture and plants inside were a mess. When I was done, I flicked the fairy lights on - again, something I hadn't done in what felt like ages.
Daniel was having a bath, and I went back to thinking about that song. I was wondering what had happened to that singer, he must be my parents' age now, perhaps he's a grandad, is he still making music? In a matter of seconds, I was looking him up on Google and found a pretty shocking article almost immediately, followed by more articles on the same topic.
A few years back, he lost a baby. His wife was six months pregnant, and they suddenly lost him. She gave birth to him, they had a funeral, and their lives were altered forever.
Before losing this child, whose name I couldn't find anywhere, his first wife had also suffered two miscarriages. He knows the pain - that unspeakable, visceral, life-changing pain that many people (many more than we like to think) continue to live with day after day, month after month, year after year. Not only does he know it, but he channels it into his songs.
Ligabue is not just a singer, he also writes and directs films. I kept reading about him and discovered that his latest film, "Made in Italy", touches on the topic of baby loss. But that's not all.
The main female character of "Made in Italy" is named Sara, just like me. She lost a baby, far along into her pregnancy, just like me. Her baby's name was Luca.
My whole body froze and shivered when I read that. I had to go back to that article two or three times, to make sure my eyes weren't playing some kind of cruel trick on me. Nope, it was all there, and it was all true: weird, spooky coincidences, right?
After all, Sara and Luca are very common names in my country. They were probably chosen at random. I know very well that there isn't any big meaning behind all of this, but I also want (and need) to feel like this is a way for Luca to make me feel his presence, by threading together lots of snippets of life and showing up at the end.
It's almost like playing a game of "connect the dots", and the resulting picture is your child's face. The song, my curiosity, my fingers typing frantically on my phone looking for more information on this tragedy, and then the film, and the names of the characters... and here he is, my son whom I lost almost three years ago, but who is never lost in my mind or my heart.
It's only fitting that Luca came to me through music - an irreplaceable part of my life, a trusted companion through the good and the bad times. Music is my way to communicate to my dead son - it was whilst he was still in my womb, it was whilst I was giving birth to him, it was whilst I somehow survived the first few days and weeks and months after his traumatic loss, and it still is and will always be.
Some people see signs in feathers, green orbs in photographs, shooting stars. I see them in music. I see my son in music.
[An excerpt of Sara's monologue from "Made in Italy", translated by me:]
"I think about Luca every day, even now. Sometimes I feel like he's here, like a... physical sensation. And even now, every day, I think about how you felt when we lost him. It's always been like this. You and me, we went through everything together, everything. And we're still standing."
A grainy photo from another life. Twenty weeks pregnant with Luca, happy-ish before his final diagnosis was confirmed, at a Pearl Jam concert in Padova, Italy.