A celebration of Harrison’s life will be held this Saturday December 12th, 2015 at The Lord’s Grace Christian Church from 10am-12pm. The address is 1101 San Antonio Road, Mountain View.
Anyone who wishes to say final good-bye to Harrison, there will be viewing afterwards to be held at Cusimano Family Colonial Mortuary from 12pm-4pm. The address is 96 W El Camino Real, Mountain View.
I write this email with a heavy heart.
While vacationing with his family in Monterey during Thanksgiving, Harrison felt a sudden pressure behind his eyes.
One of the blood vessels in his brain had ruptured. He died the next day.
His mom emailed on Sunday while she and Harrison’s dad were keeping vigil at the hospital. I met up with them at 1:00 Monday morning, then again at 1:30 Wednesday afternoon and once more at 10:30Wednesday night, doing what I could to console them in their time of grief.
I cannot imagine the anguish a parent goes through losing a child, particularly a 14-year-old in excellent health.
Harrison’s parents asked me to write something about their son which would be given to the families that would be receiving his donated organs. I have included that note below.
I would also like to share with you what I said to Harrison’s class last night, as that message applies to all of you as well:
Parents: do not take your children for granted. Tell them that you love them and are proud of them, not because of their grades, or their success at sports, or their abilities in music, but simply because they are your kids.
Students: do not take your parents for granted. Tell them that you love them and are thankful for them. Tell them that you appreciate them for providing a place for you to live, a safe environment for you to learn, and a loving home for you to thrive. Remember that many kids do not enjoy these same advantages. Indeed, many kids do not even have parents.
Parents and Students: remember that tomorrow is not guaranteed. If you have something good to say to someone, don’t wait until the next day: you may not get another chance.
I will be working with Harrison’s family in the coming weeks to help with whatever they need. If there is to be a public memorial service, I will definitely let you know, and I hope you will be able to attend and stand in solidarity with his family. I am devastated — physically and emotionally spent — but my suffering is inconsequential compared to Harrison’s family.
Please share this message with your parents. They need to know too. Thank you for doing so.
Remembrances of Harrison
If I were to summarize the life of Harrison Chen in two words, it would be just that: quiet leadership.
It didn’t matter what he was doing. Harrison’s gentle, caring, and observant spirit was prevalent in his interactions with all people: adults and children, classmates and family members, long time friends and people he had just met.
Harrison loved math. He devoured math contests as if they were an extra meal, scoring so consistently high that he earned a Teaching Assistant position in Math Olympiads class. As a TA he positively impacted the learning process of the students whose papers he dutifully corrected.
Harrison led by example. When the Students trailed the Parents in the final round of Games Day II, Harrison calmly walked up to take his shot with the ping pong ball, and deftly bounced it into the Instant Winner box, sending the Students team into wild celebration. He remains the only student to have accomplished this feat in the history of the event. You wouldn’t know by talking to him, though: when asked about the experience, he would simply shrug his shoulders and explain that it wasn’t that hard of a shot.
He probably felt the same way after the 2014 Simultaneous Chess Exhibition, when he was the only student out of 25 participants to defeat Mr. G.
Now, as Harrison enters the next phase of his life journey, his influence will continue to be felt. You won’t hear him talking loudly. You won’t see him raising his arms in the air shouting at other people. You won’t see him in person. But make no mistake: Harrison Chen will be as alive in the hearts of his students, family, and friends — as well as physically alive in the bodies of fellow men and women who will owe their lives to his generosity — as if he were in the classroom himself.
Quiet leadership. Harrison wouldn’t have it any other way.