Very rarely in life do you meet people who truly inspire you to be a better person. Who are kind and generous and talented. Who genuinely want to make the world a better, more beautiful place and then set about trying to make that happen.
Yosra El-Essawy was one of those people.
She died last week after her year-long battle with cancer. The world has lost such a beautiful human being. Someone who not only created so much beautiful art but brought so much love and compassion to everyone she met.
I feel so honored to be among the hundreds (if not thousands) of people mourning this loss because I got, for even a short time, to be her friend and stand near the light that she brought to the world.
Yosra was an amazingly talented painter and a remarkable photographer. She captured love in such a beautiful and honest way, and her talent was recognized on one of the biggest platforms in the world as Beyonce’s official world tour photographer.
When she learned that she had terminal cancer at only 32 years old, she fought it with so much strength, positivity, and gratitude… in the face of what would make most people (myself certainly included) curse their misfortune and become angry and bitter she always ended her posts and updates with #neverforgettosaythankyou.
That love and gratitude that she put out into the world was reflected back at her — she was surrounded by so much love, from her friends and family. One of the most beautiful things to come out of social media is that my Facebook feed is now filled with messages of tribute and love.
After her service this weekend her family posted this on her Facebook page:
At her service yesterday we were reminded of the need to pray for her and to do good deeds in her name. Yosra was deeply moved by acts of kindness. She cared so deeply for others. We know that the greatest gift we could offer her now would be to show that same kindness to others. The next time we each find someone in need, we give a helping hand, a smile, some support. That we go a little further out of our way to do a little something that will make a big difference. And we do it in her name. We turn the love she gave into love we give. We pay it forward, for Yosra. And we #neverforgettosaythankyou.
So for Yosra, in her memory, I plan to find more ways to say thank you for my life, my opportunity, to make the most of my time on earth and to make it better for other people.