While the news started trickling in about the people lost on MH17, I sat listening to the remarkable memoirist, Roger Rosenblatt, read from his work and later answering questions. As he addressed one query about continuing to write following the sudden death of his daughter, he explained that as a writer, his craft saved him and that his words became “self created life rafts” that carried him through his grief.
And so now, I am turning to that notion as I think about the many passengers lost on that flight who were people I have worked with over the years. Many on board were headed to the 20th International AIDS Conference, which will open in Melbourne Australia on Sunday.
I cannot find adequate words to convey my sadness for those lost; the ones I knew but even the ones I didn’t. Or for the people in Gaza or Syria or still grieving from other downed flights or just people who face loss and lack every day. The world feels heavier at this moment and my heart truly aches.
Today would have been Nelson Mandela’s 96th birthday, and I can only force myself to remember the good that people like him, and so many others including many of those lost in this latest tragedy, have done in this world and that their legacy continues. They live on in our hearts, our words and our actions as enduring reminders that they touched our lives.
Above all, I am reminded that living fully also increasingly means taking risks be it through our work or travel or desire to help others. And yet, we must never pull back, life is meant to be lived with passion and purpose.
I am humbled to have known so many extraordinary souls who dedicated their lives to reversing the AIDS pandemic. I will do my best to continue the work in their honor. To all that have gone before me, RIP.