It is usually none of their business, but they ask anyway. They want to know where the boys’ father is. And then they almost always say to her, “Ah, ma sei giovane. Ti rifarai una vita.” You are young. You’ll make a new life for yourself.
They mean well, but the implication stings. She usually feels a little indignant then.
“This is my life,” is what she says, softly, and smiles, probably too widely. Sometimes she adds, “I make it every day.”
Most assume she has misunderstood; she’s a foreigner, it’s possible. But she knows what they meant and her answer is a challenge: Tell me what you really mean. Tell me I am still young enough to find a man. And say my life counts less until I do. And sometimes they do. Say she’ll meet a man, that is.
She knows they mean well; it’s just that they are the ones who don’t quite understand. They assume she wants the same things they want for her (although not even she knows what she wants) and it has less to do with her than it does with their idea of a life, a woman’s life, and what that should be.
Who says her life is not a life, or is something less, because there is no man? She refuses to believe it. In some respects it is more. Take the big important things – no wait, don’t do that – take the small important things, the most important parts you can’t see from so far away, take those things, consider what counts, and you see a life is a life and what has changed is how she lives it, not what it is.