Fatima Ali, who was voted “fan Favorite” of season 15 of “Top Chef” has passed away last week, just a few months after receiving the terminal cancer diagnosis in September of last year.
Ali passed away from a rare case of Ewing’s sarcoma, a type of aggressive bone cancer which is usually found in young children, and is rarely seen in adults.
While Fatima Ali came in seventh during her time on Top Chef, she quickly won viewers over with her fun and witty personality.
Among the many tributes expressed through social media, her fellow Top Chef contestants and judges sent out their thoughts and farewells. Among them, Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi (who was one of Fatima Ali’s role models and friend after Top Chef) who talked about how “One of our brightest stars has fallen from the sky…I have no words.”
She continued though with this amazing quote from Fatima that really struck me:
“I dream of being better. I dream of being myself again, but I know I’ll never quite be the same. And that’s okay. I look forward to meeting that woman one day.”-Fatima Ali, on her illness and journey
The crazy thing about life is that none of us truly live it. Something that we hear all too much is that “Tomorrow is never promised.” However, we continue to live like we have all the time in the world. This beautiful woman was given a short life, and I feel like she lived more in her 29 years, than we all do in our lifetime.
Fatima Ali did something braver than most can imagine: she lived a life she was proud of. She followed her dreams, did something that she loved (cooking), and when she got her diagnosis, she didn’t just sit back to die. She chose to live better.
You will always have bad times, but they will always wake you up to the stuff you weren’t paying attention to.-Robin Williams
She spent as much of her time as she could traveling, crossing items off her bucket list and spreading awareness of her condition. She even appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres Show to chat about her journey.
As I watch Fatima Ali’s story, I can’t help but think of my own life and the lives of those I care about. I am blessed to do something that I love for a living, but so many people I know just work to pay the bills, and don’t find happiness in their career.
We create this invisible cage for ourselves. We must have a good job, we must have the house and the car, we must do this or that. So much of our adult lives are dictated by responsibilities to others, or our society; to always be “successful.”
While those are noble (and being responsible for your life is absolutely important!), we forget to actually live life to the fullest. We forget to take our lunch breaks outside on a beautiful spring day, or finally stop putting off having dinner with those friends you don’t hang out with much anymore because you’re “too busy.”
Fatima Ali is a reminder of the reality is that tomorrow really isn’t promised. Life is hard. It can get messy, and even downright awful- like being tossed around in a storm.
But there is beauty in a storm.
There is adventure and excitement just waiting for you. Take those moments to live a little. Treat yourself to that expensive restaurant you’ve wanted to try for months or take a personal day off work to spend time with your children or loved ones. Make steps to live a life that you are proud of when your time does come.
Death comes for us all someday, but I, for one, am going to take a cue from Fatima Ali:
Pursue your passion; spread love and joy; be kind and forgiving; be generous; enjoy every morsel—from humble street food to decadent fine dining; cook for the people you love. Travel the world and seek out adventure. Help others and don’t be afraid to take the road less taken.-Family of Fatima Ali to her fans
Live well friends.