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This past Feb. 4, World Cancer Day, I received the news that a former coworker had passed away after battling cancer. It was another life taken away too early.

Seth Budai was a young, caring, always happy and positive high school guidance counselor and football coach, who really cared about students. He tried to make a difference in the lives of his students, his co-workers and all those he crossed paths with, even if it was only with his smile. He had a beautiful, contagious smile.

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After having defeated cancer once before, Seth gave a tough battle again, always giving his best, putting forth his best effort, and spreading positivy everywhere and to everyone. He battled bravely. He inspired many to fight and never give up. Even in the midst of his toughest battle and his worst days, he wanted to keep working. He never stopped thinking about his students; he even wrote letters of recommendation for his senior students while at the hospital. That is how dedicated he was and how much he cared about his students.

Seth is another falcon from the Winters Mill High School family who has left us way too early. He still had so much to give and we had so much to still learn from him. But, as the great falcon that he was, he will always be remembered by his smile, his dedication, his sense of humor and by how he worked to make a difference in the lives of his students. His bravery will always inspire all of us and will be a guiding light to those who are also facing difficult times.

His passing and his bravery reassured me that I am on the path that I want to be — that I am supposed to be. I will become an oncology nurse and I will take care of all those battling this awful disease. I will make sure I give them the best care because I will give them my best. I will make sure to inspire them with some of the bravery that Seth had and to make a difference in their lives the same way Seth lived to make a difference in others. I was once in your shoes Seth: I felt your aches and pains; I hoped along with you; I fought with you and I admired your bravery — I still do. I know you are now pain-free and flying high, like the amazing falcon you were, but we will still miss you dearly.

We are left with some emptiness, because we will never be able to see his smile again or listen to his jokes, but we have the consolation of having met an amazing human being and shared with him part of our lives. That will forever be treasured and will fill some of the emptiness felt by his friends, coworkers and students.

The Winters Mill family has been hit hard and has lost several great falcons within the last year. But, the memories and the examples of these falcons have only made us stronger and more united. We remember you all and we know you are flying high, watching over us.

Marta Cruz-Alicea writes from Westminster. Her column appears the first and third Sundays.

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