Everyone knew he was coming and there was sadness in the air - he was only twenty eight. However, when he stepped into the room with his wife and his daughter at hand, the atmosphere transformed in seconds. It was still sad, but now that we met him, we were encouraged by his remarkable strength and positivity. He was living his life to the fullest, without fear, without regrets and without asking “why me”. He talked about his sickness, but I could tell that his main reason for coming was to encourage everyone not to give up on their dreams no matter what. It was as if for him living to the fullest was touching as many hearts as possible. He fearlessly cheered people on to pursue their happiness without a selfish thought. It was beautiful how his wife supported him with her genuine loving smile and gentle touch.
I often thought about the bright young man that I have met on the cold day In January years ago. His smile, his words and his love for his wife reminded me about important things in life time and again. I hoped that he got well and overcame his sickness. I wished that someday I could tell him how grateful I was and give him a piece of my happiness to return the favor. Sadly, the only favor I could return was attending his memorial this October. He died on September 2, the day before his 36th birthday. On the day of the memorial it was raining and snowing, and everyone knows how I dislike going to the city without a class or dinner incentive, but there was no question that I had to be there for him and his family. My boyfriend came with me, knowing how important this memorial was from what I have told him. My grandfather also had lung cancer and died, but all he had was six months after the doctors got involved. Sidney was fortunate enough to have another eight years with his family. He got to meet his second daughter and see both of his children grow. He didn’t just disintegrate mentally, physically or spiritually, he lived with joy and vigor while he was alive.
During the first part of the memorial there was a lot of chanting, this would have made Sidney happy. I chanted for him with appreciation - thank you for being who you were, thank you for bringing so much optimism into the world that it stayed there even after you were gone. People shared their memories of Sidney. His wife remembered the lessons that he taught her, most important ones being that one has to be happy first before he/she can make others happy and that we need to chant for people who make us miserable because they need it most since they are suffering. One of his friends remembered how toward the end Sidney was so week that he had to be rolled in his chair from one room to the next, but he was always up for chanting. Another friend shared Sidney’s confidence that we always get back what we give. Sidney firmly believed that no smile is wasted, that each one will be returned by the person smiling back at us. That’s how he lived his life, bringing his smile wherever he went! His daughters danced for daddy, his friends sang and told jokes. It was a celebration of a wonderful young man’s life, a young man who deserved to be remembered. Sidney’s spirit is now a part of all the people that he has touched and therefore will live on through us as ripples of goodness and compassion that we project forth with him in mind.