Yesterday I attended a memorial for a former co-worker who abruptly passed away at the tender age of 23. I was shocked when I heard the news. I wasn’t necessarily grief stricken because I no longer worked with him and no longer saw him after that.
When someone I know younger or older tragically passes away, I think about my dreams and my future. I think about the way I spend my time. I think about my family and how I would feel if any one of them passed away suddenly. Then I think about the family members that have died tragically in the past three years and how I still can’t bear to visit the town and know I’ll never see them again.
Death makes me ferociously follow my dreams so hard because I could die at any moment.
Before I moved out to the Bay Area, a friend I had attended junior high school, high school, and worked with, passed away at the age of 31. I had just turned 30 and was embarking on this move to the west coast. When I heard about his passing, his death struck a chord. I had just seen him the day before and he was okay. The next day, gone. My vision for my life, goals, and dreams became immediate and important more than ever. What if I didn’t wake up in the morning one day and never pursued anything I wanted to do?
When I arrived in the Bay Area, I had the misfortune of learning one of my closest cousins living the Dominican Republic had died in a freak accident. I didn’t have the means to travel such a long distance so I grieved silently in my room, by myself, in a house full of young twenty somethings interested in getting wasted than making connections. I fell into a funk and lost myself in media and food – my best friends. What got me out of my funk was remembering why I left NYC, what I wanted to with my life, and being social. Dancing, especially salsa dancing, helped. I thought of the times I danced with my cousin and that made me smile. I volunteered for film festivals and made a new friend that showed me different places in the South Bay and San Francisco. I was able to appreciate life and enjoy the gorgeous eye candy the Bay has to offer.
If I hadn’t left my room, I think I’d still be grieving, not achieving my goals and remembering why I’m on this planet.
Yesterday’s memorial showed me that I was already on the path of fulfilling my potential, accomplishing my goals, and using my time on this planet effectively.
As somber as the memorial was, I was grateful to have shared wonderful delightful moments and memories of this co-worker with my friends. He was such a sweet guy and I’m sad he’s gone, but glad I had the opportunity to know him. I only hope I leave a legacy when my time arrives.