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A few weeks ago a very good man left this earth and moved on to what he always believed to be a better place.
He was in his early thirties, in an apparently good state of health and had been married for just 21 days when he suddenly collapsed, suffered a brain haemorrhage and died. He’d just got home from his honeymoon, where he spent a few weeks travelling around his country, Sri Lanka, which he loved so much. And he died.
He was somebody’s son, he was somebody’s husband, and he was many people’s friend. He was my friend.
Above all else, he was a very good man.
I don’t think anyone who ever came across him would have had a bad word to say about him.
Although I didn’t know him for very long, his passing had a profound effect on me. More than I would have believed possible from a man who I’d known for just over a year and had spent less than 5 days with.
Until hearing of his death, I didn’t realise how much of an impact those 5 days had on me. The conversations we had, the advice he shared with me. He lived a simple life, but he was happy. He loved science, he loved children and he loved animals.
He helped me slowly let go of my fear of the ocean. He taught me about the history of Sri Lanka. He was the first man to ever persuade me to try alcohol, a homemade cocktail which tasted like toilet cleaner. He reminded me that the only opinions that actually matter are your own, your mother’s and your God’s. He tried (and failed) to teach me how to properly cook rice.
Sometimes you’re blessed enough to meet somebody who you just know could change the world if they tried. He was going to change the world. He really was. And there’s no doubt that he still will, or at least his legacy and the memories he leaves behind will.
I don’t think he realised how much of an impact he had on this world, on the people he came into contact with. And in realising just how much of a mark he made on me, without me even realising it, I’ve become all too conscious of my own impact, and the mark I leave on people.
A lot of the time, we don’t take note of our own actions.
We go about our daily lives almost on auto-pilot, saying please and thank you on cue, thinking only of ourselves and whatever our own end goal for the day is. We very rarely think of others. And we very rarely think of the impact we have on others. We don’t stop and think how our actions could have consequences on somebody else.
This is especially true when you travel a lot.
It gets way too easy to fall into the mindset that the people you meet along the way, the places you go, they’re all temporary. You won’t know them forever, you won’t be there forever. So perhaps you let go of who you are a little bit. You forget who you are. Perhaps you’re not as kind as you would be. You’re not as friendly. You don’t smile enough anymore. Or you smile too much. Because you think this won’t last forever, I’ll be home in a week.
But memories do last forever, and the effect you have on people does too.
It doesn’t matter how long you spend with somebody, what you do or say could have a lasting impression on them for the rest of their lives.
The passing of my friend has made me realise that one day I want people to think of me the way I think of him. I want to be a good person.
I had 5 days with him. Just five days. But he was such a genuine, kind and good-hearted person that I can remember almost every single hour of each of those five days. And I will miss him now that he’s gone. Even though we hadn’t spoken in a few months, I will still miss him dearly.
He was just a very good person, and I endeavour to be more like him. Because the world deserves more good people in it.
T.A. my friend, may Buddha guide you through eternity as you attain the supreme bliss of Nirvana.