When I was making my decision about universities, Leo adamantly suggested that I choose the University of Victoria. I was unsure at first, but after the endless texts, persistent phone calls, and constant Facebook messages, I was convinced that if someone as talented as Leo loved UVic, I would too. That’s why I’m here today, that’s how I got here – I know that had it not been for Leo, I probably wouldn’t be here today. But am I sure glad that I am, not only because of the wonderful culture and academia, but also because of the compassion of the entire staff, faculty, and students. This is only one of the many ways that Leo has impacted and altered the course of my life. Looking back, I am so fortunate that I got to spend these last few months getting to know one of my best friends even better. So very happy that we got to have some contentious debates around multiculturalism and multi-ethnicism, so very happy that we got to watch some great movies and talk about life, and so profoundly grateful that I had the opportunity to celebrate my 19th birthday with Leo.
We can’t help but wonder how someone as sweet and kind as Leo was can be taken from us at such a young age. We keep asking the same question – why? But the answer is really quite simple, because he was too good, too beautiful, and too remarkable for our world. Leo would never hesitate in helping a stranger, or striking up a conversation with someone who seemed lonely. He was the most loyal and devoted friend that anyone could ask for, and his compassion was unparalleled. Not only was Leo sociable and personable, but he was also extremely intelligent – his academic life was an integral part of his character and there was not a doubt in my mind that he would succeed in his dreams of going to Law School. Wherever Leo went, whatever he did, he touched those around him, encouraging them all to flourish, grow, and reach for the moon. His aspirations were bold; he never lost sight of his dreams, and they were always (always) just a grasp away. Leo had a hope for this world, a passion for social justice, and an idealism that drove his every thought, word, and action. I think that’s what brought us together; we saw in each other a love for our fellow citizen, a dream of a better tomorrow, and a belief that if we all worked together, we could accomplish great things. I think that’s what drew many to Leo: recognition of his vision.
Mabel and C.K., Leo changed my life, I know that. I also know he did the same for so many others out there: for a stranger, for his friends, for his family, and for you. The compassionate and humble attitude that he displayed speaks volumes to the kind of parents you were. It is evident how much you loved your Leo.
Leo has left us all with a legacy. It is our duty to live our lives with him in mind, moving on, but never forgetting the way in which he graced our every day. Leo, thank you for being part of my life. Thank you for being the best friend that I could ever have asked for. I will miss you, but I will never forget you. I love you Leo, we love you Leo.
Let us reflect on the words of Leo’s personal hero, Steve Jobs. He said, “Those who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”
Leo, you always believed that you could change the world; you’ve changed all of our lives, and through us, you’ve changed the world.
– Michael McDonald