May 21, 2013
Mother: "I told God, 'You can have him, but it had better be good. It had better be something big."
Zach Sobiech, the Christian teen whose song "Clouds" recently reached 3 million YouTube views, died yesterday surrounded by family at his home in Lakeland, Minnesota. He was 18.
Sobiech was diagnosed with an aggressive form of bone cancer at age 14. In 2012, after being told he had months to live, he recorded and released his song about facing death, which caught the attention of People, a New York record label, and Soul Pancake, Office actor Rainn Wilson's YouTube channel. Earlier this month, Wilson led a group of celebrities in a lip-synching tribute.
"I want to be remembered as a kid who went down fighting and didn't really lose," says Sobiech in a short documentary, "My Last Days," produced this month by Soul Pancake. "You don't have to find out you're dying to start living."
"It is with heavy heart that we announce the passing of our son Zachary David Sobiech," his family said in a statement yesterday. "Our family has been blessed not only by his amazing presence in our lives, but also by the love and support of our family and friends and by so many people in the community. In particular we'd like to thank those people who listened with their hearts and helped Zach bring his message and his music to the world."
Tributes have poured in from Japanese high schoolers and the PS22 Chorus, and digital sales of "Clouds" and Sobiech's other songs have raised more than $100,000 for the Children's Cancer Research Fund.
According to an extended profile in the Twin Cities Pioneer Press, the Sobiechs are devout Catholics. "When Zach was first diagnosed, I remember thinking: 'God can see us. We're not just plugging along, living our lives,' " mother Laura Sobiech told the Pioneer Press. "I told God, 'You can have him, but it had better be good. It had better be something big.' "
Laura Sobiech told radio station KTIS:
“It’s been a gut-wrenching and heart-breaking walk, but you know, so was Christ’s life. I have just really tried to hang on to how Christ showed us to suffer and just meditate on that….and continually pray for God’s grace. And I know that’s what it is. It’s all of these prayers of people out there holding us up.”