If you were given mere months to live, what would you do? For seventeen year old Zach, he chose to inspire and move the world through his music.
At only fourteen Zach was told he suffered from osteosarcoma, an aggressive and deadly form of bone cancer that is almost uniquely found in teenagers who are growing too rapidly. It was a shocking diagnosis in a previously healthy boy that left his family struggling to cope. Immediately, Zach began chemotherapy in an arduous clash against fate, but sadly he passed away today. He did not leave the world unmarked, though. Zach’s diagnosis and subsequent fight against his illness filled his mind with questions as well as insight about life that soon enough would spill into the world through his viral hit, “Clouds.” A celebrity-studded tribute video of the song can be viewed below.
“Music is a way I can express myself without having to burden anyone else,” Zach said in a very moving interview with SoulPancake. The song rapidly amassed over a million views on YouTube; as a song about saying goodbye, it touched people’s heart in a way that is both special and thought provoking. Aside from his music, Zach’s family and friends learned valuable lessons about appreciating life and being grateful for the time they have to make a difference in the world like Zach did. When asked, his sister described her main memories of her brother as “always happy,” something that is more than brave considering Zach’s battle to survive.
Through the last years of his life he had his girlfriend, Amy Adamle, at his side, who, despite his having osteosarcoma, decided she could not let someone as special as Zach pass her by. Recalling one of their first dates, Zach recounted cheerfully how he had to go in for scans before a picnic he and Amy were going to have and received the news he had a collapsed lung by his doctor. “Well, can we go have a picnic and then come back and have surgery?” he remembered asking, with a laugh. Instead, they held their picnic in the middle of the Minnesota Vikings stadium a while later, enjoying a moment that Zach described as “defining their relationship”: one of true love and caring no matter what the circumstances. His ultimate dream was to “marry Amy and have four children, since that dynamic worked pretty well for my family,” he stated in his SoulPancake interview. With a shake of his head, he explained “it probably wasn’t going to happen,” crushing hearts everywhere and yet inspiring us to live better, more thoughtful lives.
On the subject of death, Zach explains one of the most insightful lessons life can bestow on anyone: “Death is just another thing on the agenda, kind of. Yeah it’s scary; but the only reason it’s scary is because you don’t know what’s next, or if there is a next. So it’s kind of like sitting in the dark—you can either choose to be freaking out in the dark thinking ‘okay, what’s out there?’ or you can just relax and fall asleep and just be happy and content with everything.”
On his legacy, however, Zach said he wanted to be remembered “as a kid who went down fighting, but didn’t really lose.” He is remembered that way, yes; but more so, he is remembered as a testament to the power and strength of the human spirit.
Rest in peace, Zach Sobiech. You will never be forgotten.