I recall vividly my first image of Pia - smiling, happy and beautiful when she, Enrico and little Claudio arrived at Willard airport in Champaign twenty years ago. That image remains crystal clear in my mind today and yet it shows the very same Pia I saw so recently - a Pia who, in some magical way, never aged during the intervening years.
I realize now that Pia's magic - Pia's perpetual youth and beauty arose from the way she lived her life - the fact that everyday for her was a celebration of life - a daily affirmation of her love of life.
We all realize how very many lives Pia touched and enriched. Pia would understand our need to grieve at losing her but she would not want that grief to overwhelm us. Pia would want us to hold fast to all the wonderful memories we have of her and to use those memories to sustain us now and throughout our lives. She would want us to celebrate life as she did.
To truly honor Pia we must hold always in our heads the image of her as she was over all the years that we knew her - the image of a truly exquisite human being possessing a remarkable spirit and zest for life - the image of an extraordinarily beautiful woman - an extraordinarily caring, loving, trusting and spontaneous person.
My life is better for having known Pia - I will keep with me always the image of her smile on the first day I saw her, and the countless smiles I saw over the years. In my heart - in all of our hearts and minds - Pia will be forever young, forever beautiful and forever loved.