Barbara was waiting in an airport in Naples, Italy, for her connecting flight. Suddenly, there was an announcement. Her flight was delayed until tomorrow morning. Before she could process the situation and come up with some sort of action plan, a man sat next to her and started a conversation.
When she turned around to respond to him, she immediately noticed his eyes and the words he was saying no longer had any volume. She was lost in his eyes, which reminded her of the ocean, exactly like those of her late husband, Enrico.
Enrico passed away two years ago in a tragic accident, so the death was very sudden to all his loved ones, especially Barbara. They were only married for two years and together for a total of three years, but she felt she had known him her whole life. They shared an instantaneous connection, but above all, the wonderful things they shared and loved about each other, her favorite was his eyes. They were the most beautiful eyes she had ever seen. They reminded her of the ocean. They were sometimes blue and sometimes green, but always so calming to her, like the sea when you go to the beach on a warm, sunny day. Although no one is perfect, Enrico was perfect to her. His death was devastating to Barbara.
After Enrico’s passing, Barbara tried to move forward by dating other men. She just couldn’t find anyone that she wanted a serious relationship, so she felt that she was just floating around and “going with the flow” in terms of her love life. She often wondered if she would ever be in love again and make love again rather than just have sex. It seemed like such a distant concept.
She then noticed that the stranger was still speaking and introduced himself as Flavio. She was not listening to him, but rather, she kept making connections between him and Enrico, such as the way they met. She met Enrico on a flight to Rome. She was going on a vacation to Sicily right after her divorce from her first husband, and Enrico was going home. They had the same connecting flight with an overnight layover in Rome, where they enjoyed the city together. The next morning, they went to Sicily together, and she had a wonderful vacation with him. From that point on, they were as inseparable as they could be for a long-distance relationship, and just a year later, they were married.
Unknowingly, Flavio had created this nostalgic atmosphere for Barbara. She just kept smiling at him. He even sounded like Enrico. It was as if Enrico had returned to her. Flavio saw this positive feedback as an opportunity to invite Barbara to dinner. She was just so warm and kind to him, and it seemed like she wouldn’t say no to anything he asked.
They went to dinner in Sorrento and enjoyed its breathtaking views. They had a great time with each other. Barbara felt very connected to Flavio. She asked Flavio about tomorrow morning’s flight and where he was going to stay because she was still looking for a hotel. Flavio laughed and told her that he would be staying at his home in Sorrento since he wasn’t taking another flight. He was just coming home. Barbara was perplexed and asked him why he was hanging out at the airport then. He said that he saw her sitting in the airport, thought she was beautiful, and felt instantly attracted to her and the need to get to know her. He then invited her to spend the night at his house.
Barbara accepted his invitation with inner reservations. She was very nervous because she barely knew him. Logical Barbara would have declined, but romantic Barbara accepted before her logic was intercepted. It had been so long since she felt that good with someone, let alone someone who was so much like Enrico. It was like she had him back, and she would take him back even if she could only have him for a night.
That night, Barbara did something she hadn’t done in over two years --- made love, and it was so amazing. Flavio was a passionate lover, just like Enrico. They were so similar, especially with those eyes that she never stopped staring into while they made love.
Barbara woke up early the next morning for her flight, but Flavio convinced her to reschedule, which she eventually did so that they could spend a few days together. She was not ready to leave Flavio anyway.
They spent a few magnificent days together making love, cooking, staying up late at night, just talking about things with each other, watching movies, and going out together. It was like she had a husband again and didn’t want to leave, but she had to do so eventually.
When they parted, they agreed to remain in contact. Barbara headed to Sicily to handle some real estate matters with Enrico’s villa. Then she was back to her usual busy life with work and her daughter in Brooklyn, but much happier.
Flavio and Barbara attempted a long-distance relationship for about a month and then got into a ridiculous argument and stopped speaking to each other. Barbara reached out to him, trying to make amends, but he didn’t respond, and she just understood it as his way of ending things.
The end of the relationship had a very negative effect on Barbara. She no longer had any interest in dating at all. She completely gave up on love and life but didn’t show anyone these feelings except for her mother, Carolina. It wasn’t about Flavio but instead about Enrico. Enrico was taken from her, but after the relationship with Flavio ended, she felt as if Enrico left or rejected her, something she had a hard time living with.
Carolina encouraged Barbara to see a therapist because she felt she might be having a breakdown, but Barbara did not want to talk to anyone about it except for her mother. Carolina spoke with Barbara numerous times a day to try to help her. Then Carolina invited her to spend some time at her parents’ home in Miami.
Barbara went to Miami to visit her parents. The beach always reminded her of Enrico since they loved it so much. Carolina would always tell her how therapeutic the ocean can be.
One morning when Carolina and Barbara were eating breakfast on the veranda and overlooking the palm trees and a distant ocean, Carolina said to her daughter, “Enrico and Flavio are different people. Enrico never left you. He loved you until his last day on Earth, and he is still with you. His presence is in the air you breathe and in the ocean in which you swim. He never abandoned you and never will, but he wants you to keep living and find happiness.”
After breakfast, Barbara put her bikini on and walked to the beach to go for a swim with her very well-coordinated beach accessories, but her most important accessory was her smile.