"You don't have to find out you're dying to start living."
These words, spoken by the late Zach Sobiech, remind us that our lives will end, regardless of whether or not we know our expiration date. Zach was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, when he was 14. In December, his song "Clouds" went viral on YouTube. On May 3, he turned 18. And on Monday, May 20, he died.
When Zach was told that he had months to live, he turned to music to provide comfort to his friends and family--and even complete strangers. "It's more powerful than writing a letter because a song can get stuck in your head," he said. "Clouds" in particular reached across the globe, going viral and leading to a celebrity response video to show support.
Well I'll never get my chance. Be ready to live and it'll be ripped right out of my hands. How often do we take life for granted? How often do we wake up and go about our daily lives without realizing that the mere act of waking up is a blessing? Too often. We are not invincible. We will not live forever. Our lives will come to an end, no matter how often we brush away the idea of death.
And maybe someday I'll see you again. We'll float up in the clouds and we'll never see the end. Death is scary. It is scary because we don't like the unknown. But....is it really unknown? Zach's family, members of St. Michael's Catholic Church in Stillwater, Minnesota, leaned upon their faith to get them through the periods of suffering and doubt. Zach went to morning Masses alone and even visited Lourdes, France, what he described as "possibly the most peaceful place" he had ever visited. This faith gave them the answer. Death is not unknown. Death is not the end. Death is just a transition to an even greater life. Zach, and all who have passed away, are not forgotten. They have been received into Heaven, into the clouds and into endless bliss.
We'll go up in the clouds because the view is a little nicer. We will each face suffering in our lives. But that doesn't mean suffering defines us. The trials of this world exist only to bring us closer to final unity with God after death. This is our ultimate goal. This is our ultimate purpose. The view will be exponentially nicer from Heaven. This is our consolation during times of despair. Life can be difficult; but in the end, our happiness will far outweigh past suffering.
If only I had a little bit more time... If you are reading this, you are alive. If you are alive, it means you still have time. You still have time to live each day to the fullest. You still have time to spread God's light and love ceaselessly. You may not know that you have months to live. You may not have received a prognosis from a doctor. But no matter what, you are dying right now. You've been dying since the moment you were born, and what a wonderful fact this is. It means that each moment, you are closer....closer not to a dark and unknown end, but to eternal happiness in perfect union with God. Your time on earth is meant to prepare you for this union. So take Zach Sobiech's advice and start living.
Use your gifts to leave a lasting mark. Whether it be music, art, writing, or more, find your median and express the thoughts that matter, the thoughts that you don't want to regret bottling up when your time finally comes. These thoughts will be your legacy. These thoughts can change millioins of lives.
I invite each of you to take the time out of your day to watch this 22 minute documentary that highlights Zach's music, relationship with friends and family, and perspective on death. It has definitely changed my life, and I hope Zach's story can offer you similar consolation.
For more information regarding Zach's life, click here and here.