My dear Dustin, I don’t know what has happened to this world, and why things work the way the do. While my spirit is broken, and my heart bleeds, I still feel your your friendship and your warmth.
When I first arrived at MIT, I didn’t know what to expect and was nervous about many things. You welcomed me like an old friend, and made me feel at home. I remember talking about 6.864, and how Barzilay had just announced that EMNLP was happening in Stata that year. We attended the conference together. It is then that I realized that you were a most unusual chap. Not only were you extraordinarily knowledgeable, but you were the most caring, secure and down-to-earth human being to me on campus.
Since then, you have been my office-mate, my confidant, my arm-twister for visits to the Muddy, a most generous intellectual pacesetter, and most of all, a fierce friend at a time when I lost my top value in the world. I will never forget how Marcio and you looked after me during those dark days, and I can’t put in words what that meant to me.
Your emotional, social and scientific intelligence were all legions ahead of the vast majority of people. Day to day and chore by chore, you carried yourself at a level of elegance and humanity that I have not seen in any individual in all my time here in Cambridge. I am going to pray for you and everyone you knew. The good and noble forces at work in the world, of which you were such a wonderful ambassador, surely owes us a presence at this time. I don’t know why you had to leave us so early – why you were snatched from us, and how we are ever going to deal with this large lacuna in our lives.
There are no words to describe what you meant to me. My heart yearns to see and hear you again. As Camus once said, walk neither behind nor ahead of me, but beside me as my great friend Dustin.