SHE FELT HER HEART CRY WORDS SHE COULD NEVER SPEAK

Padre Munnini reached his hand out to touch Maria’s shoulder.
     “Maria, you need to have courage and give your son back to God.”
Maria swatted his hand away. Her eyes seethed with contempt.
     “They burned my son! BURNED HIM!” Primal sounds erupted from her. “Get out of my house!” Maria’s arms rose and fell as she rocked back and forth on the floor. Lilia wanted to go to her, but a mixture of fear, disbelief, and shock repelled her.
     “What do you know about children! He was my child!” Maria beat her chest repeatedly, and spittle fell from her mouth as she violently disgorged her words. “My son! Get out of my house! GET OUT OF MY HOUSE and take your GOD with you!”
This day was the darkest of Lilia’s life. She saw the pain in her mother’s eyes—felt her heart cry words she could never speak. Lilia watched Maria release her rage and agony, which seemed to spill like a puddle of memories around her. Memories of Arturo…Maria’s firstborn.
     And yet again, another son, another brother who would be buried without a body. Without a resting place from which to pray.
     Lilia knew at that moment, Arturo had been saying good-bye in her frightening dream so many months ago. The idea that life would now go on without him threatened to engulf her completely. Lilia pulled away. She felt strangled by the darkness as it unfolded and rolled over her like an ominous cloud. Tears rained down her cheeks as her little body began to shake.
     Her big brother was dead.
A silent scream rumbled inside. She hated the Nazis. She hated this life. How could God let this happen? With so much death, Lilia’s eyes could no longer see past the grief. What future would she possibly have without her Arturo? How could she ever feel happiness again?
     Lilia’s thoughts quickly turned to her father.
Papa! 
She ran upstairs to find Virginio sitting on the edge of his bed, his face whiter than a sheet. He was barely able to look at Lilia through his puffy lids. Virginio held Arturo’s photo in his quivering hands. He looked lost, empty, as though he had lost sight of all that could have been. War had taken away his son and destroyed his family.

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