It’s hard to believe that it’s been two years since one of my closest friends past away, Sean Carabine. I met Sean when I was at college. We were in a basic computer class and our two groups had finished a lab early so we were killing time chatting and getting to know each other. I was surprised to hear that Sean had been retired from the USMC and he looked so young. I pressed the issue a little further and with some hesitation, Sean confided that he had been medically retired due to a brain tumor. He had been diagnosed that year and been told that he had 6 months to live.
Fast forward 9 years and Sean passes away in University of Maryland Hospital on April 13, 2007 surrounded by friends and family. Friends and family who had to be told countless times to quiet down because our shared laughter was echoing through the halls. While his passing was a somber moment, the moment was best captured by Courtney, Sean’s then 11 year old sister-in-law, when everyone had regained some sort of composure and were standing silently waiting for direction, she exclaimed “Come on, we have a life to celebrate!”.
Fast forward another year, and on a beach in East Hampton, NY, where Sean grew up, the people who loved him and were touched by him gather around a bench that bears his name and one of his favorite quotes, “Live Life or die trying.” The time was a mix of laughs and stories about the amazing life Sean lived. We all recounted our favorite “Sean story” and all shared that we always found it hard to believe the extravagant tales of life Sean told but then they would be reaffirmed by someone else and you eventually found that all the stories were true.
Another year has passed and I’m returning to East Hampton to gather with his friends and family. Even after he has passed, Sean has continued to affect my life in positive ways. I’ve tried to incorporate his examples of strong character and his appreciation of life into my life. It hasn’t always been the best of times for me over the past two years; I’ve had very trying times within myself. This year, however, I am in a much better place than ever before and no doubt his influence has helped me get where I am.
There is a quote from the Tibetan Book of the Dead that has really stood out to me ever since Sean passed away. I began reading the book when Sean entered the hospital to help me find answers to what I was feeling and what Sean was going through in his final days. I feel that Sean was one of the most virtuous people that I’ve ever met and I know that his spirit lives on in all the people that he touched:
“The glorious chariots of kings wear out, and the body wears out and grows old; but the virtue of the good never grows old…