I didn’t want to post this on Christmas because I didn’t want to dampen anyone’s holiday spirits. However, now that the presents have been voraciously opened, the cookies consumed, and the the eggnog chugged, I think it’s appropriate to reflect on the true meaning of the holiday season.
On Christmas Eve, I received word of a friend’s passing. His name was Clay York, he was a 2013 TCU graduate, majoring in journalism and dance, and he was the single-most outgoing, friendly, and happy person I have ever met in my life. The news came as a shock. I stared at the text message in my phone in disbelief. There was no way. It was Clay. He was supposed to change the world, one smile at a time. He was supposed to become famous. He was supposed to be invincible.
His passing hit the entire TCU community like a ton of bricks. My Facebook feed was filled with messages of disbelief, dozens and dozens of photos, and countless individual memories that he shared with each person. It’s completely undeniable that the man had an incredible impact on the community, and I know that he will never be forgotten.
I met him when I was a freshman, living in the honors dorm. I remember hearing people talk about him and how kooky and brilliant he was, and wondering who this mythical “Clay York” guy was. A few days later, I got my answer. My door was open, and I sat at my desk, doing homework when I saw him pass through the hallway out of the corner of my eye and double back when he saw me sitting at my desk. He made his way into my room. “Hi, I’m Clay York. I’m an RA on the third floor,” he said with his characteristic big smile as he stuck his hand out to shake mine. I introduced myself in turn, and we had a good conversation for about ten minutes before he excused himself to run to a meeting (god knows he was involved in just about any and everything you could think to be involved in).
After that, whenever I saw him on campus, he’d give me big hugs and high fives. Eating any sort of meal with him in the BLUU was a challenge because he knew so many people that he was constantly getting out of his seat to say hello and have brief conversations. He was always discernible from what seemed like miles away because of his bright, vibrant character hats (Spongebob and the Mutant Ninja Turtles, for instance), his penchant to wear colorful pajamas around campus, and his colorful bike (which matched his personality perfectly).
He was elected as Mr. TCU last year to great fanfare. I don’t think there was anyone else more deserving. Though he graduated last spring, I think I – as well as dozens of others – will always see him as the “true Mr. TCU.” Clay York exemplified what it meant to be a horned frog, a good person, and a joy in life. He touched so many people in his short time on this planet, and I know that he’ll continue to make an impact on the world through his legacy.
The holiday season technically isn’t over… At least not yet. So I beseech you – reach out to your family and your loved ones. Tell them how much they mean to you and how much you appreciate them. Thank them for being there for you in the good times – and the bad. Hold them close and make every moment count, because sometimes, life isn’t fair. Sometimes, life isn’t fair and it slips away far sooner than it should. Share your gratitude, your love, and your gifts (the ones you were born with, not the pretty boxes under your tree), and leave a positive impact. Pull a Clay York and live life in a way that makes other people stand back, take notice, smile, and remember. And never – not even for a split second – forget to love.