I read a quote the other day that said "We can't control the fact that bad things are going to happen, but it's how we react to them that really matters."
The person who said this was Dustin Moskovitz, co-founder of Asana and Facebook (and Good Ventures, a philanthropic foundation whose mission is to help humanity thrive).
It reminded me of a recent event that played with huge impact on my life.
One of my childhood friends recently passed away suddenly, with no apparent cause of death. She was someone I had grown up playing piano with for fourteeen years and had been a peer that always excelled at everything. She ended up graduating from UT with almost a perfect grade point average with barely any studying and started working for Google shortly after graduation. She was someone who you would have expected to create the next big thing or cure cancer so it was a devastating hit to hear of her passing.
I went to go visit her at the funeral home with my parents and we met up with her dad. As my mom stood there sobbing in sadness, her dad did something that will forever be ingrained in my memory.
He reached out and touched my mom on the shoulder and said, "Don't cry, Ping. We need to remind ourselves to celebrate her life and find happiness in her legacy, that she lived a full, happy life. We don't want to focus on the sadness [of recent events], but rather the happiness of life - that she got to experience such wonderful things before passing."
It was in that moment where I realized there were some truly strong people in this world.
Imagine that - your only child had just passed away - and yet you were consoling others and reminding them to be happy. Her dad was consoling my mom. It should have been the other way around and yet here was a man who was able to smile through the tears and find strength in his daughter's life.
Her dad shared stories about Sarah, some stories that I didn't know about, such as the fact that she didn't study that much in college because she was always busy helping her friends pass their classes. After her passing, all of her coworkers and former friends came forward and told her parents how much Sarah had helped them whether it be tutoring for a test or help on a work project. She was always giving, charitable in time, money, and love.
There is no doubt that Sarah would have gone on to create a even greater legacy, but the one that she already had was enormous for the 23 years she held here. She touched so many people's lives with her generosity in life. And even in passing, her family was able to create an impact on others - with their strength, love, care, and large hearts, I am truly inspired by them and will strive to take these values to heart for life.
Rest in peace, Sarah. Although you're probably somewhere teaching someone right now, fixing their code and encouraging them to succeed.