I know I haven't posted here in a long time, but my father
died very early on Wednesday morning, and we had the funeral for him today, and I just wanted to save the speech I gave at the funeral.
So here is my eulogy for my father, may he rest in peace.
Hello everyone. Thank you all for coming here today to honor the memory of my father.
When we were sitting together on Wednesday, the evening after my father's death, trying to put into words just how much my father had meant to all of us, how much we loved him, and how much we would all miss him - trying to speak around the great chasm that seemed to have opened up in us now that my father wasn't with us anymore - my uncle finally sighed and said, "well, now we truly know that Andrei is not here. He would have known what to say."
And it's true - no matter the situation, my father always seemed to know just the right thing to say, just the right way to approach things. There have been many times when I found myself facing what I would think of as some kind of insurmountable problem, and I would tie myself in knots trying to think of a solution, and it would all just seem completely impossible - and then I would finally give up and ask my father for advice, and he would break down the situation with the same calm logic that he would apply to any math problem and after just a few minutes of talking to him, my own problem would not feel quite so insurmountable anymore, and I would know exactly what to do.
So of course I truly miss his calm logical view of the situation now that I am faced with the insurmountable problem of trying to figure out how to live a life without him in it.
But the truth is, I don't feel like my father is really gone. I feel like he lives on through all of us, through all the lives that he's touched, and all the people whom he inspired to do great things.
I think it's fair to say that my father had a happy life. He was living his dream - he was doing what he loved, surrounded by so many people whom he loved and who loved him back; he got to travel to amazing places and meet and make friends with so many people he deeply respected, who all shared his deep joy and love of mathematics. He accomplished great things in the field of mathematics that later inspired so many other people to also make their own great discoveries. How many people in the world can honestly say that they spent their lives doing exactly what they've always dreamt of doing?
But it wasn't enough for him to simply do what he loved to do. He wanted to share that love with other people, too. He wanted teach others to see the same beauty in mathematics as he did.
My father was a great teacher. He taught me how to take joy in life, and that I should always make room in my life for doing things that I love. He taught me what it means to truly love what you do, the excitement that comes with figuring out a problem, the wonder in sharing it with other people who are as excited about it as you are. He taught me what it means to truly know and understand a subject inside and out, rather than just knowing some of the surface facts about it, and what a difference it makes to your understanding of the world. He taught me what it is I should aspire to.
In the past few days, we have been receiving messages from all over the world from people who shared our grief over my father being gone, and many of them said the same thing - that my father inspired them and changed their lives for the better, that they considered him an example of how they would want to live their own lives.
So after seeing all the people my father made a difference to, all the lives that he has changed for the better, how can we say that he is truly gone? I think that a part of him lives on in all of us - in his children and grandchildren, in all the people that he's taught and worked with and inspired.. And as long as we all still remember him, and feel the impact that he made on our lives, as long as we try to pass on the lessons that we learned from him to other people so that we can inspire them, too, I believe that he will never truly be gone. So thank you, all of you, for helping to keep my father's memory alive.
(End of eulogy.)
He was an amazing man. (And I am not just saying that as his grieving daughter - he truly was amazing, and he touched so many lives, all over the world.)
There were close to 400 people at the funeral (I don't know exactly how many, but we were told that the hall where we held the funeral had about 400 seats, and there were not a lot of empty seats left), which was held this morning, on Friday, a workday, in a small town far from the center of Boston that you can't easily get to without a car. And this is despite the fact that I know for a fact that a lot of his really close friends and students could not make it to the funeral because they were in other parts of the world, and simply could not make it in time, no matter how much they wished they could.