…Gyorgyi and I are on one of our weekly shopping excursions. Sheltered under a parasol of mischievous laughter and the rhythmic dance off our sisterly bond, we seamlessly navigate our way through the complex maze of streets and avenues in the historical centre of Florence, Italy.
Strolling our favourite street of Via dei Servi, we notice a gentleman in a tailored suit leaning awkwardly over the handlebars of his bicycle. He is nervously speaking to a wisp of girl who can’t be more than four years old. Her terrified body language and apprehensive gaze in our direction awakens our maternal instincts. We rush protectively to her side, our zealous arms shielding her from the cars rumbling a breath away from her tiny body, she inches forward sheltered by our makeshift sanctuary.
The Italian gentleman is caring and apologetic, he’s aware the child is puzzled and frightened by his questions and masculine presence. She is confused by his soft interrogation as to her first name or hometown, leading us to believe she is not of Italian decent.
With her stoic face inches from mine, I smile and calmly request her name in English, then Spanish. When the child shows no sign of comprehension, I turn to Gyorgyi for assistance, she tenderly inquires in French, German and finally Hungarian. Having run out of languages between us, the sympathetic gentleman suggests the two of us take her to the police-stand located near the skirts of The Duomo.
A current of faith laced with fear flows from her fingers as we chaperone her in the direction of Florence’s most recognizable landmark.
As we exit the cool shadow of the buildings lining Via dei Servi, we welcome the affectionate spring sun on our faces. From across the square a petite woman erupts from the crown, her empty outstretched arms reach desperately forward as her primitive cries echo off sun drenched buildings. She scoops the child in her arms clinging tightly to her delicate frame. Muffled sobs evaporate as she inhales her daughters sweet scent.
From behind tortured eyes, she thanks us in a language foreign to our ears. A mothers anguished gratitude unmistakable despite the obvious language barrier. We fight back tears, unable to communicate beyond our smiles and gestures of relief.
An understandable need to be far from the pain of loosing her child, she leaves our company and stumbles in the direction of her husband and son. The fathers ashen face is exhausted yet relieved as his wide arms engulf his family in an all-consuming embrace.
The length of time they’ve been separated and the agony endured we can only imagine. What we do know for sure is that our participation requires a celebration.
As the Prosecco swirls in our glasses we toast; spring mornings, reunions and friendship.
After the second glass we conclude we are superheros in need of suitable apparel… perhaps once we drain the bottle we’ll have convinced ourselves in our ability to leap tall building in a single bound!