Living Up to You

On the first calm day I’ve had in weeks, I took some time this afternoon to wander the internet. I happened upon this beautiful story of a young man who left behind music, memories, love, and laughter for his family and friends when he passed away yesterday. Please take the time to watch his story and really think about the beauty of life and all its joys.

“You don’t have to find out you’re dying to start living.” – Zach Sobiech

Life doesn’t always give you what you expect. In fact, it rarely does. As a survivor of a pretty incredible (and awful) experience like Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, I am often told how amazing my positivity and strength is through everything, in spite of everything. Yet we keep seeing stories like Zach’s that show a buoyancy of spirit in the darkest moments. Really, there are a few ways to think about this positivity.

1. Maybe getting close to death makes us happier people. We see this in the movies all the time. Someone finds out he doesn’t have long to live, so he changes his perspective. He lets himself begin to love life and the people around him. He rejoices in the moments he has left. I think part of this is true because we fear less when we know our time is limited. We take risks. We tell secrets. So many people who have experienced being close to death will tell you that there is this sudden realization that the nit-picking things in life don’t matter. The relationships in life, the laughter and the shared tears are what truly matter. These are the legacies we leave behind. These are the pieces of our lives that we take with us.

2. Maybe the best people in our lives are destined to leave us early. Last year an acquaintance of mine was shot and killed when he approached another car at a drive-in to ask for a jump-start. I only saw him a few times a year, but the loss was significant. He was young, planning to start med school last fall. He was one of those people who always had a smile on his face, and that smile had this contagious spark that rippled through the people around him. Everyone who knew Mitt could hardly believe that such a wonderful, caring, positive person had been taken from this world so abruptly. Like Zach’s story above, and my friend Mitt’s story, it seems sometimes that the most special people in our lives are taken far too early.

3. Maybe a positive attitude in death comes from a positive attitude in life. This, more than anything, I believe rings true. When my Great-aunt Ann passed away earlier this year, the wake she left behind was one of love and of hope. Throughout her life, she was always a bright beacon of light for those around her, a spirited firecracker that sparked happiness in everyone who knew her. When her health started ailing, she was sure to keep smiling, sure to keep brightening the world around her. We will miss her terribly, but in the days following her passing, the stories told were of joy and of hope. Her love for her family and for life are the legacies she has left for us all.

I think this is why we hear stories like Zach’s. This is why I make jokes about my eyesight (or lack thereof). This is why we’ll remember Ann and Mitt for their smiles and the joy they brought to the world. A positive life makes for a much more positive passing. Even more important, a positive life seeps into those around us and breathes positivity into their lives. Simply put, positive life creates positive living.

Toward the end of the video, Zach tells us that “Life is really just beautiful moments, one right after the other.” An amazing truth spoken by an amazing individual.

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