I’m probably not the best person to write about you because the paths of our lives have met only “briefly” but I feel this is my last chance to talk with you.
I will always have an awesome memory of you. You’ve been one of the best persons I’ve ever met. Since the first time we wrote to each other (after Timmy gave me your contact to get some information about Yosemite), you’ve been soon so kind, willing to help and discreet.
I can still see your eyes, so joyful… When we were coming back from Milano; after you went to Chamonix – just before another of your travels to Ethiopia to try Divine Providence. You were so proud of me because, despite the little time that had passed from my climbing accident, I could already drive ourselves around, and talk freely about my past and about anything that was passing through our minds.
I felt it from the very first moment, the great person that you are. It wasn’t long before we talked about our deepest feeling on some challenging topics: so deep as I still haven’t been able to replicate (before or after) with anybody else yet… I loved your interest in nature, in people, in life. You are one of those rare people with whom I was able to speak freely, about anything. Since that first encounter, all of our following correspondence, verbal or written, has been always a striking injection of positiveness and for me.
I still remember that night when you stayed at my house in Italy, and we talked about the water problems in Moab. You were deeply interested in it and in understanding how challenges could have been solved. We talked so much until it was so very late talking about your passion and experiences in the eye cataract projects in Africa.
When we met, you were still figuring out what the next step of your life would be: whether taking your studies in medicine even further so to provide even more help in your field, or whether settling in a wonderful place in Yosemite or Indian Creek, and be a professional climber or “just” an amazing free (minded) climber as you love to be .
You’ve done crazy cool things around the world, not only with your best friends but also with other people who simply shared your kind of passion. I still have in my mind, the picture of your beloved place for bivouacking in the valley: isolated, halfway up the wall, with a great view in front of you…, and immersed in absolute silence.
I love your lifestyle: living your passions at full, your care for the others, in a world of travels and adventures…freedom of being, just you, and you found the perfect way to live your dream.
Next to you, I felt like a real person, you did not focus on my disability, you went straight beyond that, without any fears, without any problems, like if it wouldn’t even exist. For the first time since my accident, with you, I felt like a human being again.
You probably know this already, as I told you so already, and how much I needed (in my life) to meet someone like you. In the past couple of years, I felt quite alone, but you made me feel like if there’s still someone who is happy to know me for what I am now. You were so sure that I could still achieve so many things in my life and you, in your unique way, made me understand that I really could do more and that you would have been there to see me through… I wanted to. You made me feel accepted again. Maybe this is the reasons why you soon became so significant to me, in such a short time.
Your enthusiasm to come with me on El Cap for an eventual new project was infectious. Your idea to go on a kayak trip next year exciting. The idea to go back to real whitewater experience thrilled both of us. You were thinking of all this, despite the billions of commitments that you already had your long, long list!
With you everything was straightforward: it didn’t need too many talks nor too many emails: if you’d say you’d be there, I knew you will be there! You’d be there, at the very right moment because you don’t forget the things you’ve promised: your loyalty and kindness were immense.
I remember when you arrived at the base of Zodiac, after I gave up with my climbing. I was there, alone, and you joined me there with chocolate and whiskey… So cool! Then we started talking and you changed my view of what had just happened to me. You told me that maybe it wasn’t all that bad. Because this only meant that I needed to come back, and next time you would have been there too!
We kept talking, about El Cap, about life, about our search for a sort of “normality”. You, after your lost your brothers. Me, after I lost my mountains and my “old“ life, because of my paralysis.
You told me that each of us should be treated for what we can give, not for all the pains that we carry pains might be our new foundations. Maybe the new foundations have made us stronger, better people. Your way of talking me through this was incredibly sensible… no one, ever before, manage to touch so deep – and challenge me – into my inner thoughts at this level. I will miss it. I will miss you. I will never forget your huge, big hug before you went back in the valley.
For you, everything was achievable. No limits! Once you understood what someone needed, you would make all your best to make it feasible. You carried me up and down from El Cap on your shoulders, you took a piano on the top of a mountain, became an officer for a special wedding… and you did everything by yourself: in a super easy mood, like if nothing is impossible.
You’re a great lesson in life.
You parents, your sister, your brothers, your climbing mates, your friends, everyone who you helped and assisted throughout the years was lucky enough to have you by their side, for as long or as little as destiny wanted it to be. Our love for you will never fade away: it is the magical signal that you still, and forever will be, with us
I will miss you. I will miss talking with you… but one thing I can still promise you: if I will have the chance to be again on Tioga Pass, I’ll drink that white wine that we should have drunk last time.
We will miss you sweet dolphin, and we will miss your big hugs.