During the Summer of 2016 I took a trip to my home country of Italy to visit family and get an amazing vacation in before I started my first year of college. One day while in Italy, my best friend Claire and I went cliff jumping on the Southern region of Puglia, Italy and met two locals. They ended up showing us some cool hidden spots and took us out that night to show us a part of Italy not many people get to see. I met someone who I thought was going to just be a week long Summer fling but little did I know he was going to change my life forever. Giorgio, one of the locals I had met that day, was the epitome of someone who wanted to get the most out of life (even though that brought out the dare devil in him). I only spent a week with him: cliff jumping and running around the streets of Italy having the time of my life. Before I left, we both swore to one another that one day we would meet again. He even told me he'd come to surprise me on my college campus one day.
Fast forward to December 3rd, 2016 (the Sunday before my first finals week): I was running errands with my mom, who was in town visiting, and got a Facebook message from someone named Lorenzo in very broken English. I had to reread the message several times to realize that this Lorenzo was a friend of Giorgio's and reached out to me to let me know that Giorgio had died in a freak motorcycle accident in the streets of his hometown, Lecce. I had to finish my first ever college finals week, most of which tests I took crying, and go home for Winter Break. Hands down the hardest part about this experience was not being able to go back to Italy and get closure by doing things that most people going through the grieving process do, such as go to his funeral or be around his loved ones who knew how amazing he was. I was thousands of miles away surrounded by people who had no idea who he was.
I did share one very indirect post on social media about what happened, but the problem was that my best friend Claire was the only other person in my group of friends who knew who he was. In my opinion, it wasn’t something I should/could share with my social media world because no one understood what I was going through or the gravity with which the grief had hit me. It would have been one thing if he was well known in my community and everyone that I knew could gather around and grieve together but I was alone in my sadness and kept it that way.
I know that my situation is unique in the sense that most people who grieve the loss of a loved one get to grieve with others and not feel alone. So, if someone was in a situation like mine, I would advise them to find a friend who genuinely cares about them and just talk. Talk and cry and laugh and remember everything about the person who you’ve lost that you want to keep with you forever. One of the things that I was so thankful for was having a ton of pictures from that week to look back on. I would rewatch videos of Giorgio jumping off cliffs or dancing around at the nightclubs. Yes, I would be balling my eyes out as I watched these videos but it’s such an important part of the grieving process to remember the person and not keep emotions bottled up inside.
Giorgio epitomized what it meant to be adventurous and spread his curiosity for life to those around him. Giorgio's death has taught me to tell people how much I love them everyday and to live life like Giorgio would have wanted me to (minus the motorcycles, for now).