It's about 5 in the morning here now. About 7 hours ago Piero died in the operating room. He had suffered from a heart condition for so many years and now, at 72 years of age, it got so bad that they had to attempt an operation to change a few pieces. It didn't work out, his heart gave way. He had been married to an amazing woman for 43 years, their love for each other was in every gesture, in every word, in every thought. I can't even begin to imagine what she is going through.
Selfishly, and ashamed for that, I know what I'm going through. Yes, I know, if you have a friend with a bad heart who is over twenty years older than you, you'd better be prepared, and I was. Except that you're never ready. He was one of the people I loved above any other on Earth, and one of the very, very few people who could make me feel at peace, loved and protected, as stupid as all this might sound.
He had a lively intelligence, his thirst for knowledge was unquenchable, but it was never about the simple gathering of notions, it was always a search for a deep, emotional understanding of anything he encountered. He kept asking me to help him understand electronic music, of which he couldn't make head or tail, and it bothered him a lot that he couldn't figure it out because, he said, he perceived there was a lot to be felt and understood about it.
He constantly searched, learned, was open to everything, at an age when most people think they've seen everything and just stop thinking and feeling, in a world where 20-year-olds don't give a damn about anything that surrounds them.
He had worked as an IT expert and consultant for IBM, was a good photographer, could play the piano a little bit, and one could talk about anything and everything with him, as the very fact that something existed was enough to excite and interest him. Our conversations were like a vortex, it was impossible to talk about the same thing for more than five minutes, there was always more he wanted to absorb, more he wanted to share, more he wanted to compare, more he wanted to explore.
Piero had the soul and the eyes of a child, pure and transparent, and if you think I'm saying all this out of grief, think again.
He hated getting old, and even if he quietly accepted the burden of age as he did all difficulties of life, he suffered because of that. He was too intelligent not to detect all changes. His hearing was going down, he was able to measure by himself what frequencies he was losing, and it was the same for everything. Having a brain and a soul can be a curse, sometimes.
I was "talking" to him before writing this, trying to imagine what he would have told me in this situation. Then I went to his website, and he answered: on the first page there is a quote that reads, "Dying is fine, as long as you are alive". That means "You must be fully alive, with your whole self, and live like that. If you do, dying is not important". That was the answer, he was fully alive and with a full life, and he left before that could be taken away from him. I guess he would have chosen this way.
I've lost him, and I'll be trying to swallow my pain for a very long time to try and make it invisible. But I'm not writing all this to get some sympathy or to make you feel bad. I'm writing all this because I want to try the corny, sugary thing of just expressing my gratitude for having had him in my life, and because there is one thing I would like you all to do: don't write anything except for two words - "Ciao, Piero". As if you were meeting him for the first time, as opposed to saying goodbye. And if you can, send him a thought of love and gratitude for having graced life with his unobtrusive presence and the beautiful light of his soul.