A couple of weeks ago, Catholic News Service ran a story of a young Minnesota man, Zach Sobiech, and the prayerful devotion of his family as he endured the final stages of osteosarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer.
Zach, 18, died May 20 at his family home in Stillwater.
His parents, Laura and Rob, members of the Church of St. Michael, were at Zach’s side at his death. He also is survived by his siblings Alli , Sam and Grace.
The story by Dave Hrbacek of The Catholic Spirit, newspaper of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, told of how Laura understood the feelings Mary had as she stood at the cross watching Jesus, her beloved son, die.
“Identifying with Mary’s suffering has been huge,” Laura told Hrbacek. “To meditate from her point of view, watching her son suffer, has just really brought me peace and shown me how to do it. … Mary was there for the whole thing, and there was nothing she could really do but be there.”
In December, Zach produced and released “Clouds,” a song about facing death. It’s been a viral hit on YouTube, with more than 4.7 million views. It climbed to the top of the iTunes chart after his death.
Numerous celebrities, including Ashley Tisdale, Colbie Caillat, Chris Pratt, Anna Faris, Jason Mraz, Sara Bareilles, Jenna Fischer, The Lumineers, Rachel Bilson, Ed Helms and Phillip Phillips then joined in with their own video tribute to Zach.
The Sobiech family’s faith in God and strength to endure the unthinkable serves as an inspiring example for all of us facing difficult challenges in everyday life. Despite the sorrow they have felt since Zach’s diagnosis in November 2009 at age 14, the Sobiech family now knows he is with God.
May he rest in peace.