In Loving Memory: Elisa Lardani Marchi
This post was originally published on the old Laurentina Photography website blog on March 1, 2015, a couple of days after Elisa’s death.
(Photo Credit: Alessandro Lardani, Elisa’s brother and Program Director/Colleague of Gordon in Orvieto)
Tragedy hit the small, medieval town of Orvieto, Italy on Saturday, February 28, 2015. Elisa Lardani (pictured above, with her beautiful family), 37 years young, passed away due to complications in childbirth. She is the mother of 3 school aged children and a newborn, Maddalena, who is currently fighting for her precious little life in the Intensive Care Unit of a hospital in nearby Perugia. Elisa was married to Luca Castiglioni, now a single father to these children: Chiara, Francesco, Maria and now little Maddalena.
I did not know Elisa very well, but remember her fondly. If you read Italian (or have Google Translate), you can type her name in any search engine to read the many articles, blog posts and tributes that have surfaced in the last 5 days. Elisa had a sweet personality, was always generous and giving of her many talents. She was soft spoken, and had a glorious voice. Most of all, I remember her smile, which truly brightened everyone’s day.
The news of Elisa’s death left me speechless and heart broken. It also left me with an overwhelming amount of grief and sadness. She was taken away too soon. How can you even begin to comprehend the lost of a mother, wife and daughter: 37 years young? As I sit here and process my many thoughts, I cannot help but realize that her passing is yet another life lesson to show us that none of us are promised tomorrow. It makes you grateful for what you do have and allows you to focus on what’s truly important in life.
The Lardani family worked closely with our study abroad program when I was in Orvieto. Alessandro introduced us to Italian culture, language and the Catholic faith. Without his guidance, I personally would not have approached my study abroad experience to the extent in which it unfolded. Had the family not invited us students to Preghiera, a contemporary (think guitars and djembe drums, in a small medieval church with excellent acoustic) free flowing worship service put on by the Charismatic Catholic group Comunità Maria, I would never have embraced Catholicism with such openness.
In Italian, the literal translation “to give birth” — dare alla luce — is: “to give to the light.” Beauty and suffering can co-exist in this context as well. By giving to the light, Elisa gave life to little Maddalena and very quickly, delivered herself into the light. The day after her death, I poured out my energy during the Reston 10 Miler and dedicated what could have been a half-hearted race to that sweet giovane mamma. It was the right thing to do, in her honor and the legacy she was to leave behind.
I am concluding this tribute with a video from our final night in Orvieto back in June 2004. We were at Alessandro’s parents’ house, all tired, sunburned and exhausted from packing during the day and an evening of delicious homemade Italian food, delicious wine and homemade limoncello. We students are banging on pots, pans and whatever we could find and sang along to one of our favorite songs. The quality is not high-res, but towards the end of the video, you can see Elisa in the background… wearing white, clearing the table after everyone had eaten. It should then come, with no surprise, that Elisa is an Angel now, experiencing full Presence beyond this life.
Alta la Testa, Fino al fondo…