going to forget you, Alex Okrent.

July 16, 2012


Exactly a month ago Alex Okrent posted a reply to my blog ‘I’m not rocking the #$*& out of this neck brace’

‘Yeesh’ he asked, are you okay?’  

I had met Alex through my sister. He was dating one of her best friend’s/roommate at the time. We had all gone to the inauguration togehter.

After that I sometimes saw Alex when I visited my sister in DC or after when he moved to New York and my sister came up for a weekend sometimes but it was rare.

Alex and I were the kind of friends who check each other’s facebook to see what they’ve been up to, or occasionally IM each other, to share a joke or a sarcastic observation. It was the kind of friendship that most of us have these days. A tech based one. 

I took to Alex the first time I met him. He was really smart and incredibly funny. We  ended up sitting slightly apart from the group and spent the rest of the evening happily and harmlessly commenting and making fun of everybody else.  We both delighted in being somewhat bitchy and we shared the same joy of being generally ‘good people’ while indulging in a little bit of evil occasionally.

However Alex differed from me in that he was an actively good person, a seriously rare character trait in these times of short attention spans and apathy. He was the kind of person who actually put his money where his mouth was, but it wasn’t money, it was his time, his formidable intelligence, his passion, and 110% of his energy towards in causes he believed in.

What Alex believed in most was Obama and his campaign, which he had been with since 2004. Alex also differed from most people in this regard, for although many of his fellow campaigners had become disillusioned and burnt out, Alex hadn’t become cynical or apathetic. Now he had left his secure job and beautiful, brilliant girlfriend to dedicate himself to the cause once again.

Alex believed in being able to make a difference, to change the world and now he was back, to give it all he had. 

On Friday Alex collapsed in the Obama’s Chicago Campaign Quarters. He was taken to the Northwestern Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced dead. 

Alex Okrent was 29 years old. 

Now I wasn’t as close to Alex as many, many, many people were. He had a huge network of friends and family who loved and adored him. I have no claim on having known him from school or a family connection or even the campaign. You could say that I know him second hand.

But for all of that he was my friend and I am going to really miss him. 

I went to look at his facebook page. I read the messages, the love, the epithets, the thoughts and sympathies to Alex’s parents and sister and family and friends and all who knew him and were luckily enough to have him in their lives.

And while these may bring comfort and help and support the living, Alex can’t read them. 

Here are the facts.

A steller golden champion of a human being such as Alex Okrent can be taken from us without warning. If we can learn something from this incomprehensible tragedy, let it be this. 

Accidents happen, tragedies happen, cars can hit you as you cross the street (trust me on this one) BUT as accidents happen so do wonderful things. 

Here are two wonderful things we can do right now, this very minute. 

1. Tell the people in your life that you love them.

That you care about them. That you’re grateful for their friendship. That they make you laugh. That you’re glad you know them and that they fill your heart, brighten your days and cheer up your nights.  It doesn’t have to be birthdays, bat-mitzvahs, anniverseries, Christmas, holidays, and weddings. It can even be on a random Tuesday afternoon.

things like? 

like for example-

‘hey I was thinking about you/you’re in my thoughts today for some reason/ how’s it going?/ what’s new?/we haven’t hung out in a while/just checking in/  I just wanted to tell you that you’re an awesome friend/sister/cousin/parent/ I love you/I miss you/thank you for being a part of my life,/when can we hang out again?/when would be good to talk?/I’m proud of you/you make me laugh/ Mom, your soup was, is and will always be the best soup I have ever eaten. 

 Do this a lot. Do it with abandonment. Be that crazy person who expresses love. You wlll never lose from this. Let me repeat this in capslock YOU WILL NEVER LOSE FROM DOING THIS You will only gain and grow. 

2. Live your own life.

Live it as close to how you dreamed of your life could be. Stop putting shit off. Stop saying ‘fine, tomorrow, whatever, I’m tired/exhausted/stressed/ furious/grumpy’

Scarlett O’Hara’s ‘tomorrow is  another day” can kiss my ass. 

TOMORROW is in fact, TOMORROW and let me be clear,

There is no guarantee of tomorrow. 

Not for you, not for me, and not for Alex Okrent who started the day as we all tend to start it; with hopes and annoyances and a thousand thoughts and a million plans and half way completed dreams and goals and ambitions and all and everything and maybe or maybe not time for breakfast and a cup of coffee and getting to work on time and-

There are no guarantees.

So we must live our lives filled to the brim, as Alex Okrent lived. 

Alex, I wish I had known you better but I’m thankful that I knew you and that we were friends. 

Love and long life to your family, friends and all who knew and mourn your passing.

Your friend,

Sophie

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15 Responses to “going to forget you, Alex Okrent.”

  1. liz said

    I love you sophie

  2. Buffy Wicks said

    This is beautiful. Thank you for sharing. I feel the same way. God bless you, Alex Orkent.

  3. I love you both so much!

  4. Lisa G said

    Hi Sophie, I don’t know you. But I did know Alex and that was a beautiful tribute to a wonderful guy. Thank you Sophie

  5. Diane Robertson said

    Beautifully said. Thank you.

  6. Soph said

    Thank you Diane,

    he deserved every word, and more. Love and well wishes to you.

  7. Zeina said

    Dear Soph,
    I don’t know Alex but I know you. And if there is one thing that I know about you is that you are genuine, honest and caring so I trust you 100% when you say Alex was a great guy. I love your two points and will think of you when I try, every day, to accomplish them. Thanks for reminding us of how important they are.
    Lots of love to you,
    Zeina

    • Soph said

      He was a really incredible guy, and I think you would have loved meeting him.

      You too are an amazing person and I think you’re doing both things on a daily basis. You certainly made my day in reaching out.

      I send you loads of love in return.
      me

  8. Thank you for writing this beautiful tribute to your friend. Its searing honesty and loving message will stay with me for a long time.

    So that more eyes see it, you might consider entering it into Narrative Magazine’s spring writing contest which has a deadline of tomorrow night. http://narrativemagazine.com/node/172227

    Blessings and love,
    Louise

  9. Bev Arnett said

    So true! One day at a time.
    Alex sounds like he was a committed
    person. Sorry I can’t thank him.
    My sympathy to his family.

  10. Patti said

    I never had the good fortune to cross paths with Alex, but after reading your moving and honest tribute I feel I did know him. And now, I miss him. The world will miss him.

    His life was richer for having you as a friend.

  11. Lily said

    Your epitaph for Alex inspired me to get in touch w people I have not connected w for a while. I’m sorry for the loss of Alex…Lily

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