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Edith Bruck, the right of being fragile

In Italy, as in the rest of the world, elderly have been particularly vulnerable during the pandemic. Covid 19 overwhelmingly targeted them, highlighting at the same time the dramatic weaknesses of the system meant to keep them safe. In order to rethink and reform it, the Minister of health Roberto Speranza recently formed a committee that will support the government action. Presided by Monsignor Vincenzo Paglia, Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical Theological Institute for Marriage and Family Sciences, the committee appointed many important personalities, among whom Edith Bruck, 88, a writer and poet who as a young girl survived Auschwitz and other extermination camps.
“This appointment struck me. I don’t have turnkey solution and am neither an expert of bureaucracy or laws. I will give my best, doing what I do better: inspiring to think, bringing in also a piece of my experience”, Bruck explained to Pagine Ebraiche.
For the writer, who was born in Hungary but have long lived in Italy, that of the elderly is “an issue of dramatic relevance, which became particularly vivid recently. It is a problem originated by the distortion through which modern society looks at the elderly, not as a treasure but a burden to get rid of”. In our society, said Bruck, nearly nobody cares of the elderly and generations do not communicate. “So many people died far from their family, parked in those institutions from which once you get in, you never come back out”.
It is, stressed Bruck, mainly of an issue of cultural paradigm. “Love cannot be imposed by decree. So, we must act with the Ministry, but also and foremost with the families. We must make the investment so that something really changes”. For the writer, nothing is more fulfilling than taking care of the most fragile. “Every day – she says – is like witnessing a rebirth”.
It is a theme that resonates deeply through all of Edith Bruck work and strikes a very personal tone in her most recent book Ti lascio dormire (I let you sleep). It is a long, touching letter dedicated to her husband of 60 years, the film director Nelo Risi who recently passed. The writer retells the story of this long relationship, of its ups and down, and of the long illness that afflicted her husband. The wife was at his side, with patience, heart, and courage, until the end. A dramatic experience and an act of love, the greatest we can imagine: the act of granting the other the right to be fragile.