Yesterday I learned that my old friend Sebastian died. It wasn’t really a surprise, many people in the online advertising industry knew him and had been wishing him the best with the fight for his life. His facebook page had been filled with messages for months and everyone who knew him was talking about how sick he was.

He had told me in confidence this last spring that he was going to die, and made me promise not to tell anyone. I wasn’t sure if he was joking or being completely honest.

Like many of us in the online advertising industry, we met Sebastian around the turn of the century. I met Sebastian at one of the first industry parties that I threw, where he was definitely the life of the party.

Sebsastian was one of those guys you couldn’t help liking. He wasn’t partially handsome, but his personality shone and he was always around beautiful women and interesting people.  For as long as I remember, wherever there was a party in NYC in the industry, there was Sebastian schmoozing it up, making new friends.

A few years ago he had a daughter and he decided to stop drinking.

Yes, I forgot to mention he was an alcoholic and heavy smoker for as long as I knew him. That’s until he realized that if he didn’t change his ways, he would never live to see his daughter grow up. He wanted desperately to be healthy, to be there for his beautiful daughter who he loved so much.

Unfortunately it was too late for him.  He had numerous visits to the hospital, the years of drinking, the years of smoking and not taking care of himself was too much for his body.

That’s why he shared with me he was going to die: he knew no matter what he did, he had only a short time to live, but didn’t want anyone else to have to share the pain. I don’t think he could bear the rest of the world knowing that he was going to die: it made him sadder, and he was always about smiling and making other people smile.

We are taught never to talk ill of the dead. Still, I wish he had changed his life sooner. I wish he had heeded what everyone was telling him for years, that his drinking and smoking would eventually kill him. Maybe someone out there will hear his story and make a change that prevents another needless death for them or loved ones. I’ve seen too many people die needless deaths because of abuse of drugs, drinking and smoking — including my brother who died 13 years ago. There’s no happy ending to a story like this, just sorrow.

All we can do now is remember the happy times and wish we had done more to change what happened. He died at home, after leaving the hospital to spend time with his friends and family.

Goodbye Sebastian. You and your smile will be missed.

 “Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”― Thich Nhat Hanh

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