To Eric Dong – A Friend, A Classmate, A Good Human!

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It has been over a year since I learned Eric Dong, my former classmate at Santa Clara University had passed away. 

The innocuous text message that began with, “Hey Neeraj, you have a few minutes to chat?” impacted me in ways I did not realize. While you can never be ready for the passing away of a classmate, you are certainly not prepped for it in your 40s. Too young, too soon.  

Eric, Allyn, and I did our Masters’s together. Allyn called me shortly after his text. Our call lasted 22 minutes. And in those 22 minutes, neither of us realized how deeply the news had impacted us. We attended Eric’s funeral with a few classmates to say our final goodbyes. The memory of placing the flower on Eric is etched in my brain forever. 

Eric was a fun-loving guy who truly enjoyed life with all its challenges. Whether it was a formal networking event, post-class parties, or staying up late for a group project, you could always depend on Eric to bring his whole self. He always made his presence felt. Whether with his smart comments, ability to crack jokes at the right time, and making everyone feel included in a conversation. And he did it all with a big smile on his face. I miss Eric’s big smile. 

The past few years have unraveled life’s unpredictability for everyone worldwide. Despite being reminded, time and again, to never take things for granted, somehow, we manage to do that. 

As you go through your work week, busy making calls and moving from meeting to meeting, take a moment to call/email someone you last spoke to a while ago. I am confident it will make you happy and undoubtedly make their day. 

To Eric – until we meet again, stay funny and goofy with your big smile. 

PS: Allyn – we are long overdue for our next meeting.

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