“A good man is a friend to all living things.”…..Gandhi

Yesterday I was alone, enjoying the opportunity to reflect on the loss of a former student that I deeply admired; today I was with 100+ people celebrating the life of Carlos Pineda and mourning his death. Fittingly, today was also Earth Day as Carlos was a visionary environmentalist and leader. The many tributes from those who were present and those who sent messages included personal stories and professional accolades. What struck me was that everyone who spoke experienced Carlos in a singular way. Yes, there was universal recognition of his kindness, brilliance, humor, passion, loyalty, and creativity. And all of us knew him to be driven toward solutions in a way that transcended convention and boundaries. But we all had our separate experience of Carlos. And perhaps it is that which was his greatest gift.

I was privileged to hear recollections that spanned his life from Carlos’s family and friends. The four year old who decided to be superman is not far removed from the man who brought a community of like-minded professionals first to a conference at Yale and then to their feet in a spontaneous and sustained ovation. Carlos was a friend who literally and metaphorically embraced those he cared about and he cared about many. While nothing I heard today surprised me, everything I heard moved me.

I’m not alone in missing Carlos and railing against the disease that took him away from his wife, family and friends far too soon. He leaves us bereft but inspired, committed to bring his spirit into our own actions. Even in death, Carlos leads.