In the last three weeks, two people I did not know well, but who have close connections to those I care about, have passed away.
The first was one of my son’s friends, 16 year-old Daniel passed away in his sleep. What stood out to me about this young man was that he inspired others who knew him, and, as I listened to those who stood to speak about him at his Celebration of Life, I understood why. Daniel was one who put his whole self in all of his endeavors, he had no patience for the word “can’t,” and he took time to listen to others so that he might help them through their own struggles. Daniel was described as someone who lived his life with joy.
Coach Mike was the football coach at Kennedy High School for 46 years, and after retiring in 2010, he found himself back on the football field supporting our Milpitas High School team. While I was not able to attend his Celebration of Life, I was told by those who did, that the impact of his life on others was amazing. He was a person who built capacity in those he served, he was gregarious and quick to smile, and one person wrote that he made her feel she was important.
These two generous people had two things in common, joy and service to others. They valued life and the unique contributions that each of us can make in our community.
When he retired, Coach Mike told reporters: "‘When I get to the Pearly Gates, I don't think St. Peter is going to ask me how many games I've won,’ he said. ‘He's going to ask if I did anything for mankind.’" (SFGate.com)
Daniel’s mother read to us his beliefs essay that he had written earlier this year, and he wrote that he believed we come to know ourselves when we “find the beauty within” and live it each day.
While one was at the dawn and the other in the dusk of life, they modeled for us the importance of finding joy in serving others. That is what I love about my work in Milpitas. I have the opportunity to serve our MUSD community, to make a difference in the lives of our students and those who care for them. Thank you Coach Mike and Daniel for reminding us to be fully present in all that we do for one another; after all that is what matters most.