Dear Father Giussani: My brother Andrea had come to see me in Chicago to celebrate my American degree (a Master's) and had happily accepted the invitation to the vacation of the university students. I was very glad because I had always wanted him to meet the people in the Movement. Things didn't go the way I had imagined, but in the fact that his tragic death happened in these circumstances, I see an even greater fulfillment, if possible, of my desire. He died surrounded by people who know how to love a person for his destiny, the truest friends that one could want. The Lord chose to have me go through pain, touch it with my own hand, and feel it intensely. But these were also days of grace, for His presence which was so evident among the friends who stayed with me through it all. Even now I can't imagine a second of what happened without their companionship. Their presence was so amazing that even the nurses were struck by it. One, thinking that we were all relatives, said to me, "We've never seen a family like yours." Another asked Maria Teresa, "Who are you all?" Her answer ("friends") was evidently inadequate, and she insisted again, "No, who are you?" These were days of grace also for the deeper relationship that was established between me and my parents. They impressed me particularly for the way they talked about my brother. My father said that a child is a very great gift. When you find him in your arms just after he is born, it is a real event. It is something that happened through you, but that you didn't do yourself. Then, as the years pass, with the training you give him, you can be tempted to believe that he is yours, and to lose that original awareness. When something like this happens, it is clear once again that what you had was a gift and all you can do is give thanks for the years you spent with him. This is an unimaginable capacity for love: the love that goes so far as to let go of the beloved.
The Noli me tangere which I have often talked about with you, and the idea of love embodied by Girolama in Miguel Maņara (which, by the way, we had just read during vacation) came to my mind. I understand that they love me in the same way: what more can I want? Just like his life, also his death, the sacrifice of his innocent life, will be (and in some measure already is) a sign of the Lord's love for us. "Cross and resurrection," you wrote concerning Enzo's death just a few days before; faced with the still, serene body of my brother, I began to intuit this great mystery. The cross, sacrifice, our pain and the offering of my brother's innocent life are the mysterious, but necessary vehicle of grace. Manzoni says it too, as Father Pino reminded me: the Lord "never disturbs the joy of his children, if not to prepare for them another, greater and more certain one." My mother pointed out to me that this phrase is found at the beginning of all the troubles, when Lucia leaves the town of her birth, going across the lake. It is thus a certainty that we have from the beginning, not some kind of final reckoning, a balance sheet between joy and pain that we draw up in our old age. My mother again, talking with Father Michael, said that she felt she had suffered enough in her life, especially in these last few years when she has had to take care of my ailing grandparents. However, she often stopped to think that this sacrifice was made up for by the fact that she had two fine sons. What was happening with my brother, however, showed in a terribly real way that God never makes these calculations. The Lord, Father Michael said, gives everything, He wants our complete happiness, but he also asks everything, and does not hesitate to put His children to the test. He does this with those He loves most, as with the Virgin, the first to live through a pain like this. Now, what we can do is offer this grief of ours.
If God exists, as has been evident in these days, He will know how to take it and transform it into good in the places and ways He chooses. We pray in the meantime that He will continue to manifest Himself as in these days. Already many relationships have changed, with my parents, with my girlfriend and with my closest friends. With a heart full of gratitude,