Yesterday the world lost a bright light. Zach Sobiech was an 18 year old boy who passed away after a four-year struggle with osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer that typically affects teenagers. Zach was told that by doctors that the cancer was terminal and he didn’t have long to live. After his parents suggested that he write some goodbye letters to his family and friends, Zach chose to express himself the only way he knew how: through song.
Zach posted the video to his song “Clouds” on YouTube in December as a way to leave his mark on the world, but also to raise money for the Children’s Cancer Research Fund. Knowing that Zach recently passed away makes it pretty much impossible to make it through the video without breaking down in tears, but the song is also so positive and uplifting that it’s equally impossible not to feel happy after watching it. This is one special kid — he told CNN that he was more worried about his family than himself when it came time for him to go, because they would have to be the ones to deal with the pain.
Naturally, I can’t watch this video without seeing it through the filter of being a parent, and while I’m sure that Zach’s mother is absolutely devastated today, I’m also sure that she’s incredibly proud. No one should have to lose their son to cancer — but obviously Zach’s parents did something right if they raised a kid who was able to take something so scary and turn it into a positive. Not only has he touched millions of people with his beautiful song, but has also raised (and will continue to raise) money for other kids going through the same thing.
I’m going to show “Clouds” to my eight-year old daughter, who is at that age where death — especially death from cancer — gives her extreme anxiety. If this brave boy could come to terms with his own demise and create something so powerful out of it, surely that message can help other kids grappling with the idea of their own mortality as well.