Circle of Life

Sometimes there are no answers.

Sometimes it’s best not to ask why.

Sometimes nothing makes sense and you just try your best to stay sane and strong.

Sometimes when you are on vacation, having the time of your life with with people you love, you hear the saddest of news, and you are simply silenced because nothing you can say will take away the pain of the moment.

I am in Sayulita, Mexico with Rick, John, and Jenna.  We are enjoying every minute of our stay here.  It is a pure joy getting to know my future niece Jenna, seeing John and Jenna so in love, being with Rick and about to celebrate 25 years of being with him which is coming up in April 2013 ( and our 20th wedding anniversary coming up in August 2013).  We are relaxed and I have lots of time to check Facebook every day.  Yesterday I checked Facebook and, just a few hours after it happened,  learned that my dear cousin Ignazio Bonsignore died suddenly of a heart attack in Grotte, Sicily.

Ignazio Licata with his wife Laura Valenza and their son Rosario

Ignazio Bonsignore with his wife Laura Valenza and their son Rosario

Death comes to us all eventually, but why to Ignazio now when he was just 35 years old, father to 3 year old Rosario and about to be a father again in 5 weeks?  Why did he suddenly collapse while enjoying a meal with his wife Laura?  He was holding little Rosario, just put him down,  and then he collapsed.  One moment kissing his boy, laughing with his wife, enjoying a meal, next minute, gone.  Why, when he was healthy without a hint of any heart condition?  How?

I Skyped my relatives in Sicily yesterday and it was heartbreaking to see everyone so broken up, in complete shock.  My computer screen filled with grown men crying buckets of tears.  And we all sat in our Mexican casa, thousands of miles away, with no words, unable to hold the people I love, unable to comfort them.

Rosario being kissed by Ignazio's brother Giuseppe

Rosario being kissed by Ignazio’s brother Giuseppe

Ignazio is my first cousin Pina’s son. I cannot imagine her pain. I cannot imagine what it will be like for Laura to give birth to her second child in February without Ignazio there to welcome the child in his arms.  I cannot imagine what it will be like for her to raise her two children without the guidance of their father.  I am comforted to know I have a huge family of cousins and uncles and aunts in Grotte who will be an endless source of love and comfort for Laura, her children, and to Ignazio’s mother, Pina.

To comfort myself, I imagine Laura’s children will have a spiritual father to guide them along life’s path.  I like to imagine that my cousin Ignazio, who was as pure as a human being could be, was called to a higher spiritual state of being early in life for reasons that my little earthly mind could not fathom.  I like to think that the little bambino or bambina Laura will give birth to will continue to carve out the circle of life and carry his/her father’s lovely spirit and serve to make this world a better place.

Musically talented Rosario

Musically talented Rosario.


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16 Responses to “Circle of Life”

  1. Lisa Fox Says:

    Hi Fran I’m so sorry for your loss. Family Ties are so strong. My thoughts and prayers and with you and your family Love and Namaste, Lisa Sent from my iPhone


    • frangallo Says:

      Thank you, Lisa. I know that Ignazio’s family will gather strength from each other and love and their faith will see them through this difficult time of loss. love, Fran


  2. bethfishman Says:

    oh fran – this is unreal. Sending love your way – and all the way to Grotte too. Beth


    • frangallo Says:

      Thank you, Beth. Ignazio’s funeral is tomorrow (Saturday) and I just keep thinking about his wife, kids, parents, and everyone else whose lives he touched. The folks in Grotte will feel your love! love, Fran


  3. Angie Says:

    My love and thoughts of strength are with you and your family. You”ll never get the answer to your questions, just pure understanding of the importance of being in the moment. The appreciation of now – which is all we really have.
    Sending hugs,


  4. frangallo Says:

    Thanks, Angie, for your words of wisdom.

    Readers, please note: In the original blog, I wrote Ignazio’s mother’s family name. However, his family name is Bonsignore (his father’s family name). I have corrected the name in the blog.


  5. kay Says:

    comfort to you and the whole family. so sad and sudden!


  6. Karin Bigman Says:

    I am so sorry for your loss . My father died at 37 the same way . As a child You do go on but continue to strive for a relationship that you never reach . My prayers are with you and your beautiful family . Sent from my iPhone


    • frangallo Says:

      Karin, Thank you for your kind words and prayers. I knew your father died at a very young age, but somehow I didn’t remember how or exactly when. You are an extraordinary human being and followed in your father’s footsteps and became a doctor like him. And even though your life is rich with family (your kids, your husband, your mom, your sister etc etc), of course you would go through life missing that special daughter-father relationship that was cut way too short. Thank you for sharing your experience. love, Fran


  7. Miriam Says:

    Hi Fran,
    I am so sorry for you and your family. I know there are no words. Sometimes, it helps me to hear someone say, ” I don’t know what to say, but I am holding you in my heart.” This is what I can offer you. Sending love. Miriam


  8. frangallo Says:

    Thanks Miriam and Kay for your comments! One of my cousins, Maria, just described Ignazio’s funeral today on Facebook with these words: “Tanta gente come meritavi….la banda musicale…e Padre Vincenzo che è stato grande nel raccontarti….tutto questo per la tua ultima festa…ciao cugino ignazio…….” Translation: “So many people gathered as he so well deserved…the musical band (Ignazio played the trumpet in the city brass band)..and Father Vincenzo was unbelievably amazing in telling his life story (Father Vincenzo is my first cousin and Ignazio’s uncle and performed the funeral service)..all this for his last feast/festival/gathering…goodbye cousin Ignazio….”


  9. Bev Says:

    Fran, I’m so sorry. I, too, am holding you and your family in my heart…and in my thoughts and prayers. Love, Bev


  10. Rick Says:

    Father Vince’s tears poured through the Skype screen onto our shoulders in Mexico and necessarily wrenched us out of our paradise and into the agony of the family’s great loss. Father Vince is a stanchion of the family and community in the Grotte area. To see him weep so deeply and fully helped me feel what I needed to feel in that moment so I could peacefully return to life on another continent with that loss in my heart along with the other losses in my heart. I thank him for enabling me go there in spirit, from a place of warmth, warm colors, and warm people and where butterflies were flitting and birds singing. He is a leader even with his tears and a great example for all of us, of feeling what we need to feel and living with it. I am not surprised that, despite his pain, he led the mass.

    Love to all, to those who have experienced such loss, and especially to cousin Pina’s family.



  11. Helen Anne Says:

    Rick your comment above brought tears to my eyes. Beautifully written and thank you for your openness.

    Fran, I am so so sorry for your loss. It is unimaginable when something like this comes into our lives. What do we do with such a loss? I know that reaching out to your family in Italy will bring you some comfort to feel connected to them during this time is important to you and to them.

    I have been writing my family in Ireland, to my dad’s brother’s and sister’s, his cousins. They in return have written me back for the first time in my adult life. Their letters brought tears to my eyes. They were beautiful. I am understanding more about the doors that open as a result of our loved ones that have passed on. Maybe this is the how the circle of life teaches us and we grow from it as confusing as it may appear sometimes. May you cousin rest in peace. Like you said, he will be guiding his children in spirit.

    Helen Anne


  12. elisa Says:

    i met Ignazio and Laura in Sicily… we received the bad news at the end of the year and, believe me, holidays have been spent thinking about this tragedy. very sorry for this, i always rember him in my preyers. all my deepest condolences to Laura ad i do not know how to get in touch with her. i worked with her for kitchen of our house in sicily. now i moved to northern italy.


    • frangallo Says:

      Hi Elisa, You can find Laura Valenza on Facebook. She lives in Grotte (Sicily). I will also send her your email address so she can be in touch with you. Thank you for posting on this blog. It is so very sad. I am sure she will be happy to hear from you.


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