Today is your funeral. This is so grossly unfair for someone who is not even 35 years old. Age aside, its even more unfair because you were made of pure goodness and light and dumb luck took you out of this world. These are not words to inflate and eulogize the deceased as many people do, but they are the honest truth about the kind of person you are.
I remember the day they told me you were joining our team at work in early 2012. I was talking to a co-worker who already knew you from grad school and I said something like new guy, I wonder what he's like and what he knows! I said this even though I was a newbie myself and was excited to not be the youngest / greenest person on the team anymore. To this, my co-worker replied, Robert? He's awesome! You gotta meet this guy, he's the best.
As many people will tell you, those who meet you become instant friends with you and such was my fate. A few short months later you already moved on to bigger and better gigs having acquired an insane amount of knowledge in a short time, but we remained friends. This is not one of those co-workers who goes out to happy hr with you and then only stays in touch on LinkedIn. This happens and its ok, but not Robert! Happy hr ensured past our overlapping employment, but every hour with you is so damn happy.
Happy because there was never any judgement, harsh words, talking about others in a negative way or any negative thoughts on this world. I am the polar opposite of you in the sense that I always see the bad in the world and I assume people are bad too. Not you, never. You possess and internal joy and zen that cannot be taught. Years of practicing yoga and years past my own darkness, I still cannot come close to the kind of energy and light that you were born with. When we met in 2012 I was still in the darkness of my life but coming to work and using my brain for good and being around others and you was an amazing and welcome distraction.
That summer we went out taking photographs at the still existing graffiti mecca 5 Pointz in Queens. It was non-stop art and fun and photography and creativity. After that we went dancing at MoMA PS1 and drinking wine under the stars. We were posting and sharing photos for days after and you even framed a shot you took of me and Shana at 5 Pointz on the wall in your apartment. I also took one of my favorite photos of you there, standing among all the colorful art but it pales in comparison to that megawatt smile. It was that summer that I realized that I was going to be OK and one of the best days of my life was that day in Queens with you and Shana.
Years passed in which we went out to amazing foodie joints from Scandinavian to Turkish and we always ate more and stayed longer than anticipated. You are the kind of person that when with you, time can slip away unnoticed and you look up from your watch 5 hours later like nothing happened. Last summer we spent hours at Roosevelt Island having a picnic and taking photos of the island and the city. Another amazing day where I vowed to return there but somehow never did. It just wouldn't be the same.
This past summer a bunch of us spent a hot afternoon out in Botanical Gardens hiding under trees but eventually emerging as we could not resist all the photos that begged to be taken. Again, hours melted away as we melted under the sun a little. Still not wanting to go home, you me and Niral found a bar with outdoor seating and greedily sipped on cucumber flavored drinks and ate chicken skewers while reviewing some of the shots you and I have taken. Little baby Eden was there and I think we both met him for the first time there after Jade told us she was expecting during our Roosevelt Island excursion the summer before. I took my second favorite photo of you there holding little Eden and that famous smile again. You and Eden, how fitting now.
Before leaving the gardens I got distracted by something random as usual while you walked ahead. I called ahead to you and when you turned around, I decided to take more photos to even out my plant to human ratio from the park. You waved at me from a distance and thats when I took what turned out to be the last photo I will ever take of you with my Nikon. It took a while to catch up to you across the field.
I never really did catch up to you in any way. You are a better photographer, designer and overall human being. You set the bar so damn high for what a human being should be that few of us will ever reach it. I just wish I could be more like you. I wish we could all see that big smile again.
I'm gonna miss you. We're all gonna miss you.
Week 31 of 52 - Stories in 2014 and 2015