Behind Chris Saiz’s Smile
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On Saturday, June 8, joyous eyes watched 713 caps fly into the air as the hands from which they came waved farewell to high school years. When the time, graduation, finally came, I delighted in the fact that most of the faces I saw, I recognized. Every name rang a bell. But, there was one face missing: Christopher Rey Saiz.
On Dec. 20, 2011, Chris Saiz, a junior at the time, died in a car accident. He missed his 17th birthday by just a few hours, making that day and Christmas a terrible reminder of his absence for his family and friends. In honor of the class of 2013 and the Saiz family, my last blog post is dedicated to Chris’ life and his memorable smile.
“I truly believe that if I were to ask every single person who was in Chrissy’s life, they would all tell you they will always remember that smile,” Magda Saiz, Chris’ mom, said.”His smile was a reflection of who he was. That feeling you got when he smiled was like the sun coming out.”
The second Chris entered a room, people could feel his presence. Dressed to the nines, Chris would walk with his earphones in while wearing a soft smile that showed how comfortable he was with himself. You could look at him and tell that he knew where he was going and how he would get there. He did not need someone else’s approval to move forward, so he kept his goals in the forefront of his mind and made no excuses for failure.
“He was cool and collected. He was never one that went with the flow; he had a plan and always stuck with it,” graduate Gabriel Sobarzo said. “He had that gift, that ability, to light up a room, to entertain a crowd. His smile was exponentially contagious… he lived life and enjoyed it.”
Chris’ smile could both comfort and entertain. It could mean anything, ranging from “okay” to “I love you” to “I got it.” He dreamt of playing college basketball for an Ivy League school, and with confidence like his, no one would dare to steal that dream from him. He worked day after day towards that goal, impacting lives on and off the court. He was someone you could trust, and his smile was the first sign that he truly cared.
“He taught me how to work hard and to never be satisfied with where I was,” junior Malik Amos said. “We worked out every day and he pushed me to be the best that I could be…he would make you feel better if you were feeling down. He was just a good friend.”
He first fell in love with the game of basketball, and it held his heart until his last day. Some said he was too short or too young, but it did not stop him from going the extra mile. As he worked for his goals, he changed lives without knowing it. It was not until his death that the Saiz family discovered how much Chris had really accomplished.
“I didn’t know…we didn’t know that he had touched so many people so quietly. We knew he was special, but I think every parent will say the same about their child. We knew that at the core he was a special individual,” Mrs. Saiz said. “But to me, the most impressive thing to this day is that people took him as a lesson to be a better person…Everybody feels like they had a special moment with him, a little piece of him, a little moment, a little conversation, a little interaction that impacted them through years.”
Despite the competitive nature of club sports, Chris managed to transform a game into an opportunity to love.
“He was kind of like a magnet, people gravitated towards him,” Chris’ father, Michael Saiz said. “They could be from all socio-economic backgrounds. He played with a lot of different groups and some of the folks, well, had a lot of hardships. Everybody always could relate to Chris. He made people feel important too…Whether it was a smile, a nod of the head or a glance…he just embraced people, all people.”
Most people aspire to make a difference in this life, but only so many will continue their influence beyond their death and for generations to come. Chris had relationships that built others up with no selfish ambitions. He created a network of kindness that extended beyond his days on earth, accomplishing what only so many will: leaving a legacy
“I think his death has caused me to be more mature about everything because I now know to cherish every moment,” graduate Abby Glova said.”I now have learned to let go of so many negative things and to not worry about anything that won’t make a difference tomorrow, because you don’t know if you will have a tomorrow.”
Behind Chris’ smile was a lifelong dedication to being carefree. He loved life and wanted others to love it just as much, challenging them to find beauty in a world filled with despair. His smile not only had a meaning, but a reason as well.
“I think he smiled because he loved the moment,” Mrs. Saiz said.”He loved who he was. He loved what he was accomplishing. He was just very comfortable with who he was. When you have that inner peace, it reflects. That was his smile.”
Every morning before Chris left for school, Mrs. Saiz told him to “be a blessing to somebody today.” Today I wish the same onto the members of the graduating class of 2013. May your smiles change lives and your lives change the world.