The Strongest Bonds Are Forged From Fire (and Michael Bublé)

An excerpt from 10 Days In Italy by Robin Rivers and Mhari Rhiverson

Tearing up at the sound of Michael Bublé’s voice shouldn’t shock anyone. However, the circumstances surrounding a recent encounter with the crooner gave Mhari and me a moment of pause—a moment brought to us as proof that serendipity is alive and well as our fellow Vancouverite serenaded us on our last night in Rome.

Our spirits already ached a bit that day. A crack-of-dawn wake up for a visit to the Sistine Chapel left us both bleary-eyed. Another 39C day laid down a double dose of anxiety as the effects of the heat from Procida left us both weary and cautious. No breakfast. Low caffeine. Last day in Rome. Heading home to send Mhari off to university. Emotions had grown tender. A solid hard cry honestly just waited in the wings for the right moment.

We survived a blazing hot morning and a sleepy afternoon, wandered around Monti once the temps started to dip and headed off for the last supper:). Mhari’s excellent foodie radar gave out on her a bit. The restaurant she chose (with a 4.7 star rating) gave super sketchy vibes. So, we decided to jump out of the queue and hit the restaurant we’d had a great meal at the night before. Night two did not disappoint. With full bellies and sentimental sighs, we headed back to the hotel.

That’s where Michalel Bublé and his ability to seal mother-daughter bonds comes in.

We stepped into the old 1930’s style velvet and dark oak bar at the hotel blissfully unaware of the plans already in motion. Within two steps, he met us at the door.

Another summer day

has come and gone away

in Paris and Rome

I wanna go home.

Mhari and I froze at the sound of his stunning voice. We turned to each other. Our eyes filled. We rushed into a little alcove because we both knew. That solid hard cry we’d dodged all day had descended upon us right in the middle of the hotel bar.

Another aeroplane

Another sunny place

I’m lucky, I know

But, I wanna go home

Got to go home

This was it, as Michael Bublé echoed from overhead — the last moments of Mhari and I as young child and caretaking mom.

I didn’t want it to end. But, the door to that time in our lives closed right in front of me in the middle of Rome. I saw the last 18 years rush into and through me. Up and out. Landing on the woman in front of me who desperately needed to go home and begin her own adventure. We stood, holding hands, trying to keep from thoroughly embarrassing ourselves as Bublé continued to sum up the entirety of our mixed emotions.

And I feel like

I’m just living someone else’s life

It’s like I just stepped outside

when everything was going right

And I know just why

you could not come along with me

This was not your dream

But, you always believed in me.

The heavy sobbing erupted. In the coming days, our lives will change with such intensity. Mhari will follow her dreams and stretch out on her own. I will settle into a new routine with work, Ken, Quinn. Mother-daughter bonds are so complex. Everyone around us seemed to understand. They smiled at us softly and gave us the space to let everything we needed to feel come forward. Bublé sang and sang, generous in his unwillingness to let us leave without releasing every last bit of love and ache from us.

I like to think that this time together was a gift that I gave to Mhari. However, she unknowingly gave me something I have longed for all of my life — deep mother-daughter bonds. My mother —for reasons I have come to understand, but cannot change — was never able to open herself to that connection with me. Over the last few months, an overwhelming desperation settled over me. Would I repeat that trauma? Would Mhari’s venturing out into the world be the end rather than the beginning? It haunted me until that last night in Rome.

We stood there, tears running down our faces. Once I caught my breath, I told her what I’d been keeping so close, how it was never her duty or obligation to heal my trauma. Yet, there, in the blazing sun of Italy, she did just that.

This time in Italy gave us each other. We’ve passed through a sort of portal into new versions of ourselves, phoenix who burned to ash in the summer sun and rose up to begin this transformed life, stronger in our bond than ever.

As for Michael Bublé, well, he held us close, made sure we understood what magic transpired, and sung us home.

It’ll all be all right

I’ll be home tonight

I’m coming back home