About half way through this six week festival Dima and I became better acquainted. Playing soccer on the beach, searching for constellations in the night sky and teaching Dima how to dance salsa, I soon figured out that that these activities were better described as excuses to spend time together. I thought it would just be a camp fling. Little did I know we would be very close for the next three years.
I had the pleasure of being with Dima during his exciting (and stressful) years of applying and moving to the states to study. It was a difficult process, full of essays, exams and paperwork, which of course for Dima were irrelevant since he just wanted to play cello. But he was driven and committed and, as you know, found great success here. I also had the privilege of visiting him twice in Russia and meeting his whole family whom I immediately love, especially his father Vadim, mother Natalia and younger brother Evgeny.
During these years I learned many things from Dima as a human being and these are a few I would like to share.
One: How to smile. Dima was always one who wanted to cheer people up. If ever I was wearing a frown I would soon hear from him the phrase: "Masha, why aren't you smiling?" Smiles were a requirement.
Two: How to laugh. Dima was a serious musician but also an incredible humorist. Not only was he constantly making jokes in conversation or acting silly, he had a way of infusing his music with laughter (when appropriate) through the most dramatic pauses, spontaneous cadenzas and ridiculous amounts of rubato.
Three: How to love. In addition to his incredible passion for music, Dima knew how to love. I don't say this just because of how he loved me, but rather how he loved his family. Dima showed me through example what it means to care for, support and love family, the people in our lives who can and will love us forever. I admire so much how he always took the time and made the effort to stay connected with them, constantly putting family first even while he was so busy and far away. A few weeks ago, his mother said to me "Dima worked too hard." to which I agreed and could reply "only because he loved too much." Dima followed his dreams because he loved music and he loved his family who supported him. He worked hard to use his talent so that he could give back as much as he could along the way.
Though Dima and I were distant friends for the last couple of years, I always will respect, admire and miss him. His physical heart may have failed him, but his spirit was a shining light which has and will continue to inspire us all. My only consolation is found in the hope that we may smile, and laugh and love in his tradition.
My first love, my first lost. Forever loved, never forgotten."