"Okay, Lord, you can have him. But if he must die, I want it to be for something "big." I want someone's life to be changed forever."
This is what Laura Sobeich prayed when she found out her seventeen-year-old son had only one year to live. With this desperate prayer, she released her son to God's will.
At that point, Zach Sobiech was just another teenager battling cancer. When his mother told him to think about writing good-bye letters to family and friends, he decided instead to write songs. One of them, "Clouds," captured hearts and changed not one life but millions, making him an international sensation.
He produced a full-length EP, written and performed by Zach and his lifelong friend, Sammy, including a personal goodbye song to each other. The day of Zach's funeral, "Clouds" was the #1 downloaded song on iTunes, and the EP rose to #2. The music video now has more than 7 million views on YouTube, and the documentary Soul Pancake released on Zach's eighteenth birthday has more than 9 million views.
But Zach's story is not just about music. It's a testament to what can happen when you live as if each day might be your last. It's a story about the human spirit. It's about how God used a dying boy from a small town in Minnesota to touch the hearts of millions--including top executives in the music industry, major music artists, news anchors, talk show hosts, actors, priests and pastors, and school children across the globe.
Zach once said, "I want to be known as the kid who went down fighting, and didn't really lose." "Fly a Little Higher" is about how God used Zach to do something "big."
Zach's family is set up a lot like mine. Four kids, all around the same age. Zach is only a little younger than my brother. The whole time I was reading this I was imagining myself in the Sobiech's shoes as if it were my own brother. Needless to say, there were lots of tears.
The underlying storyline here was trust. Laura put her trust in the Lord through the entire process of diagnosis, prognosis and death. I admire this woman's courage so much. Laura is very real about her story though. Despite her strength, she is honest about the difficulty. There are times of strength and times of struggle. Laura and Rob's marriage struggles, the kids struggles with death, their oldest struggled with joy (she was married 10 days after her little brother died), etc. It's just real and I appreciated that.
My favorite part came not even half way through. Zach was wise well beyond his years. I guess there's something with death that probably matures you whether you like it or not. There were a ton of priceless nuggets of wisdom, but one of my favorite quotes came in the very last paragraph of chapter 11. After one round of chemo, some surgeries and a short time of remission, Zach had just found out his cancer was back, and it wasn't going away. He was terminal :
"'Okay. Well it sucks that I just spent two months being sick for nothing. But I'm glad
I don't have to waste any more time in the hospital.' He was doing it the best way
he knew how. He confronted the future, then left it there and came back to the
present where he had a life to live and enjoy. I really loved that about him.
As his mom, it made me proud. As a human, it inspired me."Ironically I finished this book May 19. What I didn't realize until the very end was that May 20 was the anniversary of Zach's death. It was symbolic for me, finishing his story a year to the day when his story actually ended. However, Zach's story is still going. His music, his story, his osteosarcoma fund, it's all still going! God really had a plan for this young man and his family. Their story is more than inspirational, it's extraordinary.
Do yourself a favor and watch this YouTube special about him. There's a large section of the book with a behind the scenes story of just this video. Basically, the family struggled with all the publicity and really grew from it.