Claire Wineland was an activist and a public speaker living with cystic fibrosis. She often made YouTube videos about her life with CF. She inspired people all over the world and talked about the intricacies of life and death. She was amazingly fearless and had enough spirit to fill up a building. She passed away after a lung transplant after suffering a massive stroke. If you don’t know who she was, here is one of my favorite talks from her. I thought I should share what she meant to me since she inspired me so much. Rest in Peace Claire.
In this heartbreaking moment, it has been one day since I found out Claire Wineland has passed, and I don’t know how to feel. Or I think I do. I feel like I am stapling all my feelings of sorrow and shock and confusion to my spine and one wrong move, just one, and I can promise the universe I’ll collapse.
I want to collapse in tears without ever stopping until I learn to cope. Not with death. Not with mortality. I know and have always known this is the only guarantee life brings us. So why is this so freaking hard? I want to collapse because I don’t know how to process 21 years of her wisdom and so much life into mere sentences. I don’t know how to condense every lesson I’ve learned from her into my life. But most importantly, I don’t know how to cope with everything she never got to give to this world. All the other beautiful, and mind-boggling ideas she never got to share. And that devastates me.
I didn’t know Claire personally. Except I feel like I did. No, I didn’t share with her all my personal experiences and tell her about my day. Never even bumped into her at a coffee shop. Never crossed paths with this person that I feel extremely inspired by. I did however, watch her videos when nothing made sense or when I needed a fresh way of looking at life. And not for inspiration only, either. Although Claire was inspiring beyond words, she never let her illness define her. I am not sick, and I do not have cystic fibrosis, but it doesn’t matter because all I saw was a girl, about my age, conquering the world as best as she could. And that’s all I’ve ever wanted to be in this life. Isn’t it funny that a complete stranger taught me more about myself than anyone else I know?
Claire Wineland was an exceptional human being. And she meant so many different things to so many different people, and I’m sure each role she filled in someone’s life, she did it with grace, and humor, and never-ending beauty. For this reason, this is not a eulogy. A eulogy is a piece of writing for when someone dies. For when they are being laid to rest. A eulogy, in my life symbolizes the end of something. Claire has passed, but this is not the end. She gave kindness and wisdom to people all over this world, she made humans feel less alone regardless of their struggle. Because we are all going through something and the goal is to find the beauty in that something. I feel incredibly grateful to have followed Claire’s journey. At times, it was saddening to watch. Other times, it felt like her spirit was a gift. Like she would post a video or give a talk, and I wouldn’t even be angry or upset or disappointed anymore. That’s the impact she had. The impact to make me realize how to turn all of these crappy and painful brush strokes in life into a masterpiece.
I don’t think I want to write a eulogy for Claire Wineland because the best parts of Claire will stay with us for the rest of our lives. Her legacy and views on every topic she ever visited are permanent. I hope her family knows how much she inspired people (myself included).
I hope Claire is resting in beautiful peace right now.
I hope she is amongst the angels.
And I hope they learn from her.
She has so much to teach them.
“I hope you know that people who suffer most in life actually have the most to give”
Thank you so much Claire Wineland, you will never be forgotten.