Thursday, February 16, 2012

Saying goodbye to a dream weaver

I’m sure every one of you reading this has had death in some way, shape or form knock on your door. A friend, a relative, an acquaintance – perhaps a co-worker, gone seemingly in a moment. And you are reminded of the fragility of life.

This morning I learned of the passing of a man, a friend who once embodied strength, energy, vitality, confidence and moxie. Craig Willinger, soccer aficionado extraordinaire, 42, a man stricken by a high-risk cancer just a few years ago is gone.

News like this has a numbing affect.

Things like this only happen to other people.

Maybe you see yourself as bulletproof – maybe you deny your own mortality. Count me among you.

When death hits close to home it temporarily knocks you off track. The once important daily tasks are suddenly far less important. But then we dust off, get back on track and get back in the game. And when you do you hope that the experience of your loss can influence you in a positive way. And you pray that your lesson resonates.

But then life gets in the way. While you are busy again with all those other plans there’s a disconnect and the lesson fades – maybe it even gets lost. I hope not.

When Craig Willinger learned of his illness he did what I suspect most of us might do. He created a bucket list and at the top of that list for Craig was to see his favorite team, Bayern Munich play at home in Germany.

During his return to Baltimore after realizing a dream Craig turned his attention towards making dreams come true for others. In 2009 the Craig Willinger Fund was set up to help children fighting cancer, live a dream. Since then Craig’s vision coupled with a child’s dream has become a reality for a few children. Craig’s family and friends are determined to keep the CWF alive.

Craig will undoubtedly be missed and his legacy of chasing and realizing dreams will echo in eternity. And the hope here is that it inspires others to do the same.

As we say goodbye to this vibrant man, I can’t help but be reminded of a card I read many years ago that has always stuck with me. It went something like this:

“Many years from now it won’t matter how much was in your bank account, the house you lived in or the car you drove. What WILL matter is that the world may be better because you made a difference in the life of a child.”

If that is the definition of a successful life, and I think it is, Craig Willinger, you were a smash hit!

Thank you for the lesson, the laughs but mostly for being a difference maker.

You will never be forgotten.

If you care to make a donation to the Craig Willinger Fund click here and thanks for your consideration.


Jerry B said...

Yes, sadly, I've had similar experiences. Yours was a beautiful tribute to an obviously worthy friend. At times like these, I'm always reminded of a recitation that I've used in eulogies at too many funerals: "Heart of my heart, pride of my pride, remember I lived, forget that I died"! So sorry for your loss, TL.

Tony Lombardi said...

Jerry, so poignant. But I've come to expect that from you.

Thank you!