In memory of a truly wonderful person, whom I knew very little

It’s always difficult to accept when someone young dies before their time. I think in the case of Paulina Sokołowska it’s doubly difficult – she was so full of life. Right now her Facebook page is flooded with testimonials and goodbyes from friends, co-workers, students, people who heard her concerts. I only met her once – but I’m so happy I had the chance.

“Carpe diem” has become such a cliché, and so have the stories of people who fall ill with a terminal disease, get help, get better, and learn to appreciate their lives in a whole different way. Now… Paulina made these sentiments ring so true and honest. Last summer we worked together on a project that only lasted one day – a recording of film music with string quartet – and I vividly remember how much fun we all had (the group was lovely), how motivated yet completely relaxed and extremely friendly Paulina was, and how at the end of the day we went out to chill in the garden and talked. I went home with a whole load of new energy, so inspiring it was to listen to her say how fully she tries to live every minute of her life.

It’s true, isn’t it? I remember her saying people only stop to appreciate life or reflect on it in “big” moments. Births, weddings, funerals. And going on to say how happy she was to be there with us, having a lie-down on the green grass, a well-deserved rest after a whole day’s work, on this hot, sunny, fabulous summer day. You almost had to stop yourself from shouting “yes! yes!” while waving your arms in the air.

It’s especially hard to learn that she’s not there any more, not only because of her really special personality, but also because of her illness, for which there seemed to be no treatment at first. How she didn’t give up searching for a solution, how – miraculously – she found one, and how she gradually got better and better. She was winning against this horrible thing! She talked about her illness so openly, and I really believed that the worst was over. I’m sure everyone who knew her wished it.

With all the horribleness of this sad news, there’s at least this one thought I find comfort in. With Paulina’s attitude, I cannot imagine her otherwise than having lived a life where she was fully present every second and where she inspired everyone around her with courage and optimism. Some of us probably don’t get as many of these lucid moments in a whole lifetime…

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