On Saturday, April 15th, 2017, the world lost a good soul. Alan Silverman – a man I’d worked with during my years at UNICEF – died after having developed brain tumors only a year or so prior. His death feels very unfair and unkind and I feel immensely sad at his passing.
We had very different personalities and occasionally we clashed, sometimes quite spectacularly, and yet I’ve cried a lot today as I think of him. He loved life and was a role model for squeezing every ounce out of every experience.
In recent years, since retiring in 2010, he continued to work and traveled and fell in love and got married and all the while, I’m sure, planned more adventures and experiences. That’s how Alan was, always planning and, most importantly, putting things into motion.
I suppose I could look back and think that at least he’d gotten the most out of his life – far more than many could ever hope for – but I still wish he could have had more time. He touched a lot of hearts and minds around the world and educated so many about LGBTQI rights and HIV and stigma and discrimination and probably a gazillion other things.
Alan and I made up our respective parts of a small team of in-house United Nations activists who created a UN-system-wide workplace program on HIV: UN Cares. It was groundbreaking for the United Nations and would not have had the same success without him. He was a terrific facilitator and trainer and I learned a lot from him. Although I didn’t seem him often anymore, just knowing he was around somehow reassured me that the good guys were still at work in this battle against the virus we call HIV.
In an email from his husband, Antonio included a quote that sums up Alan in so many beautiful ways:
“I’ve learned that the passion of a single person can make a big difference, but with the passion of many people, we can make an even bigger difference.”
Alan made a difference.
I so appreciate how hard Alan worked to make the world a better place. He was a tireless warrior in the fight against AIDS and yet his life was cut short by something entirely different. We simply never know how or when our lives will end or what will be the cause. It never seems fair. I’m so very sad for Alan’s husband and family and friends.
He will be missed by so many, but we’re all lucky to have known him. He did the world good. May we all contribute even a fraction of Alan’s energy towards improving the lives of others. May we do so with him in mind.
Rest well, my friend, you so deserve it.