I couldn’t sleep last night. 10 o’clock, 11, midnight, 1 a.m. It wasn’t just that my mind was racing, but that my body was just alert, awake to something almost outside me. I step outside, and it looked as though an almost full moon was illuminating the night, vanquishes shadows. At 3 a.m. I went online and saw a Facebook message from a mom from my son’s Las Lomas High wrestling team.
Her message was about Amir Khakimov, a Las Lomas senior. Originally from Uzbekistan, this affable, witty sweet-faced young man–and fierce competitor–was the Diablo Foothill Athletic League champ in his 126-pound weight class and had represented the Knights at the North Coast championships in February.
But Amir was in the hospital, and would have to be removed from life support. This was to take place Tuesday night.
It may just be coincidence that I couldn’t sleep Tuesday night, but as I lay awake, I did some crying for Amir and his family. A lot of us students, parents, teachers, counselors have being doing a lot of crying. It’s been a heartbreaking few days.
Last Monday, Amir was taken to John Muir Medical Center. I don’t know all the medical details but I’m told an examination showed he was bleeding in his brain.
He was losing his life to a medical condition that he may have been born with. Unfortunately, many people with this condition are asymptomatic; it’s not something that could be detected through a routine medical examine, and it can strike without warning.
Amir had surgery and spent the past week in the hospital’s neurosurgery intensive care unit, where he was receiving the best possible medical attention. Many wrestling teammates and friends visited.
I didn’t know Amir. I just knew him as a teammate of my son’s. I remember him as a dynamic athlete, this skinny but muscled kid who had trained in judo and other martial arts in his home country of Uzbekistan—before his parents and two younger brothers moved to Walnut Creek a year and a half ago.
That martial arts training showed in how Amir could pick up a opponent during a match, throw him down and then let him back up so he could do take him down again. As this other mom said, “His competition never saw it coming.” She added: “Such a strong vital person.” But later, Amir would tell his coach about his opponent, “I would never really hurt him.”
Amir was also known as an enthusiastic member of Las Lomas’ English learner population, said principal Matt Campbell. “Though he came to Las Lomas with very little English proficiency, he worked diligently to master the language and was on track to graduate next year.”
As Amir told Las Lomas’ school paper, The Page, in March 2012, he very much valued being part of the wrestling team, especially being new to the United States and still learning the language.
“Wrestling helped me speak English because my English was bad and I talked with the guys and they helped me communicate,” said Amir, whose younger brother is also on the team.
Both brothers were among the stars who helped the Knights win the DFAL tournament in February as well as as the NCS Division II East Bay team dual championship.
Unfortunately by Monday afternoon, Amir’s teammates were hearing that he wasn’t going to make it. They and students from Las Lomas’ ESL community gathered at the hospital to pay respects to his mother and father and other family members and to say goodbye to their good friend.
I didn’t sleep too well on Monday night either, and woke before dawn on Tuesday.
As the sky started to lighten to a soft purple, I could see some clouds and then a streak of orange from the rising sun. The air was cool and fresh. The birds were starting to sing, and a soft wind was rising. It promised to be a lovely and completely ordinary spring morning.
But I also thought of Amir in the hospital, and his family by his bedside. If they were to step outside on this Tuesday morning—Amir’s last day—they would see the same soft purple and streak of orange. But they wouldn’t experience it like anyone else.
Their whole world had changed and now the morning and that orange streak could carry profound sadness, of a magnitude I cannot, even as another parent, imagine. This sky and this lovely morning could have a whole other meaning for them. They could be wondering: will we ever see the beauty again?
As principal Campbell said, the Khakimov family is very proud and has a strong network of support within our community. However they are in need of donations. If you are able to help the family, you have two options:
- Donations given directly to the bank for the memory of Amir Khakimov:
- Chase Bank: Account Number: 216696727, Routing Number: 322271627
- If you want to leave your donations at Las Lomas, we will gladly accept your donation in the Main Office. Please make checks payable to Amir Khakimov.
- A family representative will come to the office to transport donations from the school to Chase Bank.
- A family friend has also created a Give Forward page, to raise money to help pay for memorial and other expenses.