A surviving witness

October 9, 1963


That evening, I put to sleep Renata and Fausto and then I went to Magareta who lived in front of me, to observe from the terrace the mount Toc illuminated by a beacon light located near the Vajont dam. It was after 10.30 PM.

Suddenly, we saw the pine and larch trees that moved with the ground below. Immediately after the beacon light went out and I heard an indescribable noise, which I had never heard before and Magareta told me: – It is the end of the world. So we took shelter near the wall of the house, because the stones were falling from all sides and water was wetting us.
I looked at the sky and  it was clear, there were also the stars. Then we retreated into the house. After moments of bewilderment I said I was going to see my children who were alone. I went out on the porch and then I found myself on the way I had to cross to go to my house. There was water all around and I could not move. Still I had to shelter under the porch and wait a few minutes because the water ceased. Then I went into the house in a hurry.

I found Renata desperate because the bedroom window was open and the water had entered, wetting everything. Renata said, “Where were you, I called and you did not answer me, the light does not come on and we are all wet.” I lit the candle, I prepared the kids and we all went to my mother’s house. There was desperation because my sister Giacomina and my brother Dino were missing.
I took my children and Gervasia to my mother’s bed and then I went down to the kitchen. Soon came Luciano, my nephew, who had already returned from “Fraséign” in the company of other men, where he had been looking for his mother. He was desperate, crying and saying: “How will we do without my mom? We are three brothers and Gervasia is still young. ” Meanwhile, also arrived Pasca,the  grandmother and hearing this consoled them and slapping her chest repeated: “I am here, I will take care of you all, do not worry, I will do everything.” And Luciano replied: “Grandma, you’re old, and my mom is gone. What will we do now that our mother is dead? In Fraséign there are no more huts, no stables, there are no roads, there’s nothing left! ”

I looked at him and I realized he was all muddy, from hair to toe. He had deformed shoes for walking in the dark, in the mud, because there was no trace of the road. My mother said: “Who knows if my Dino is still in the village or if he has already gone to the construction yard.” She still had a glimmer of hope, later she found out that he had already left so deeply distressed at hearing this news she closed in upon herself and spoke no more. More people arrived at home, my mother did not want to see anyone, she just wanted to be left alone, because she was thinking about her  sons, about Dino who had not yet turned 24 and Giacomina that had left three children alone.
Meanwhile, Gervasia, from the bedroom, kept calling me and beg me to send her to her mother. She insisted on her mom and I did not know what to tell her, because her mother was dead. I lied by saying: “She will come tomorrow.”
It was a terrible night that I would not remember, it grabs my heart; I have a knot in my throat and I can not hold back the tears.