On Friday afternoon, I found out that Alex Okrent, a classmate from Wesleyan, had collapsed while at work in Chicago, and later passed away. He was 29 years old, healthy, living with purpose, trying to make the world a better place.
In 2008, I was living abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina, spending too much time on my laptop following Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, and determined to get involved, I emailed my resume to everyone I knew that was working on the campaign. Even though we were not close friends in college, Alex, who treated everyone like a close friend, responded immediately, and gave my resume to the right people—a few weeks later, I flew to Indiana to work as a field organizer in “Region 7.” That experience, which Alex facilitated, shaped the next years of my life.
We spend so much time thinking about the most trivial of matters; the emails and the errands and our busy calendars, that we rarely stop to remember how precious life really is. In conversations about Alex with friends from college, and in seeing the outpouring of love and support on Facebook, I realized that, despite all the challenges and worries and problems we deal with everyday, all of us have so much to be grateful for. Our families, our friends, the love in our lives.
To think that a healthy, passionate, 29 year-old can pass away so suddenly is deeply tragic and saddening, and it reminds us all to live each day to the fullest. Don’t wait to ask a friend from college if he can hook you up with a job (even if you have no relevant experience). Don’t wait another moment to give your life purpose or get involved in something you believe in. Do the things you want to do now, not later. For today is what we have.
Thank you, Alex, for touching my life. All the love in the world to your family and friends. We miss you.