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Triumphing over tragedy

Dear friends, this month we will go to Gavardo in the province of Brescia, where we find Gianpietro Ghidini, a father who has gone through the worst experience a parent can go through: the loss of his son. But Ghidini was able to transform his pain into positive energy and generosity for others. In fact, Ghidini is the founder of the Il Pesciolino Rosso (The Goldfish) association, which focuses on young adults and encourages them to find joy and appreciate life in all of its aspects, without artificial constructs. Let’s hear his story in his own words.

“My Emanuele was 16 when, the night of Nov. 24, 2013, he went to a party with some older friends. There was a lot of stuff going around that evening: alcohol, marijuana, synthetic drugs. Emanuele tried that bad stuff. Then he was accompanied back home at 3 a.m. His friends suggested he take a short walk close to the river Chiese before going back inside to freshen up. Emanuele accepted the offer and headed down there with a friend. He stopped at the exact point where 10 years earlier we had released a little goldfish. He let himself go in the river, my Emanuele. The next day, my eyes were looking through his. I thought about the day before, when I had seen him more serious than usual. I told him we should talk but … my watch reminded me that I couldn’t stop and so I postponed our talk to the next day. But that day never arrived.

“Emanuele was a wonderful boy. It’s true, he made a big mistake, but he was better than me. He didn’t know what hate was and he would never get mad. Sometimes I took advantage of this when I lectured him, I wouldn’t talk to him for the entire day, knowing this would hurt him. In the evening he would come teary-eyed to my door, knock and say he was sorry. He would hug me. I never told him I was sorry. That’s why I didn’t throw myself in the same river, despite the desperation that followed his loss. I want to be more like him. I want to discard all the bad attributes I had as a father and as a man.

“After his death, my days were filled with grief. I was crushed by a sense of guilt for not being there and holding his hand, for not stopping to talk to him the day before, for not coming back home in time, for not having gone into the river with him. Two days later, right when desperation was pushing me to do horrible things, Emanuele came to save me. I dreamt I was walking into that river; I looked for him but couldn’t find him. Then all of a sudden I found him; I took him and pulled him out of the water. When I awoke from that dream I felt a powerful force, as if his energy had come into me. That’s when I knew what I had to do: I would dedicate my life to young people, telling as many people as possible our story and the warmth that life can give us. I got up and wrote a letter dedicated to Emanuele. I promised him I would start an organization dedicated to youth. In a few days, The Goldfish association was born. Since then, I’ve held 1,000 meetings throughout Italy, in many schools, for free. We’ve also published five books on the relationship between parents and children and how this relationship is influenced by school.

“When I go to these schools and I hug a kid, it’s as if I were hugging Emanuele. When someone says ‘you’ve saved me,’ it’s another little miracle that Emanuele has accomplished. I tell parents not to judge their children, to not be their police, but to be their defenders.”

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