Memories of Hovig Saghdejian

When I first met Hovig eight years ago–we became really close right away. One year after his passing–it is still hard for me to realize he is gone. What I want to remember about Hovig is his great personality and his ability to touch everyone he met at a personal level. Everyone loved Hovig. I deeply miss him and will never forget him.

–Michael Sarkissian

Hovig was one of a kind. I’ve never seen an individual touch so many–so effortlessly. But that is who Hov was. In every single memory I have of him–there was a smile on his face–which radiated to every person he came across. You couldn’t talk to him without laughing. Everyone who knew him liked him–and those who knew him well–loved him. He lived his life the way one was supposed to. When most pass–you are left with pain–sadness–a deep void–a feeling of something missing. And then there was Hovig–who even in passing–managed to give us something that we can all take with us. Even though he’s gone–those memories help fill the void. One year later–that ability to touch–to make us smile and laugh has not diminished. He was that special."

Hov–I love you brother. I’m just grateful to know you as long as I did.

–Shant Sarkissian

Hovig–thank you for sharing one of the rarest and most precious experiences in life with me–your friendship without bounds. Your limitless loyalty–trustworthiness–and selflessness will always remain with me. Your life fundamentally impacted who I am–forever changing my beliefs–values–and outlook. There has not been one day that I have not shared with you–in one capacity or another since your passing. Your loss has been painful–and I can not imagine that sorrow ever leaving. However–you left me with so many positive and valuable things to focus on. And for that I thank you.

Wherever I go and whatever I do–you will always be right by me.

–Abe Yacobian

Though a year has gone by since the passing of Hovig–the shock and disbelief remain. What can one say about Hovig that has not already been expressed? From his special way of making you feel loved and safe–to his "grandfatherly" advice–his hearty laugh–and his unbounded love for his family–friends–and country–Hovig was truly a unique soul whose passing is still unreal. Whether you knew him for 20 years or 20 minutes–his charming personality and good heart were undeniably evident. Hovig was effortlessly "cool." From our days at AYF Camp to the nights in Beirut–Lebanon during our two-week run as Hamazkayin "Forumagans," the good times–conversations–and memories linger. There are days when it all feels like a bad dream–hoping to take a huge sigh of relief as I wake up. I still expect Hovig to walk over to me–put his arm around my neck–say something sarcastic in Armenian–and give his captivating smile–as I hold on to the moment with all my strength. Though the hands of time cannot be turned back–we will always keep Hovig’s spirit alive as a true testament of the remarkable young man that he was.

–Ani Shahinian

Words cannot explain the pain I felt the night I heard that my cousin Hovig Saghdejian passed away. Across the other side of the world–I could hear the tremble in my mother’s voice when she told me that he had died in a car accident the day before. I immediately broke out in tears as utter confusion and disbelief set in. I tried in vain to remember what I was doing at the time of his passing: I was sitting by myself–looking out over the ocean–in complete serenity. I felt completely calm at that very moment. All I could see was the brightness of the sun and the never-ending ocean. I imagined that this is how Hovig felt at that very moment in time as he was leaving the earth: calm and peaceful.

Hovig was the kindest–most charismatic soul one could ever meet. His smile was contagious–his laugh infectious. What I remember most about my cousin was his capability to make every single person in a room laugh. No matter the situation–if you were around Hovig–you were always having a good time. The last momen’s I had with him are in this vein and forever etched in my memory.

–Lorig Messerlian Hovig Saghdejian volunteered on the Land & Culture Organization’s July 2003 Campaign in the village of Medz Ayroum–a small village near Armenia’s northern border. Hovig’s sense of humor–piercing intelligence–sharp wit–positive attitude–warm heart–boundless energy–amazing work ethic–and party-hearty personality were both unique and unmatched.

In the toughest of times–Hovig always maintained a positive–cheery outlook–his light–humorous disposition–and optimism was contagious. We all picked up from Hovig’s good spirits. He was a close companion to us all; his warm heart was also contagious. He spread his friendliness and love around the village and made the campaign a happier place.

His work ethic was second to none. Even on the hottest–most tiring of days–Hovig would be found taking up the most difficult–taxing of jobs at the worksite. He was there to serve his people and gladly accepted the task.

It is never a complete description of Hovig if no mention is given to his love of parties and the good life. For almost one month in Armenia–Hovig and the heart of any party were inseparable. Hovig always attracted a crowd to a party with his generous smiles–poetic toasts–patriotic chants–knee-slapping humor–and brilliant personality. He never refused a good drink or sat out a meaningful toast. For Hovig–life was a celebration.

In conversations with Hovig–one would readily note his anxious willingness to serve Armenia in more significant capacities in the long run. Hovig was destined to serve the Armenian people proudly–both his community in Fresno and in Armenia–as Hovig was a born leader. His departure is a tragic loss borne by the entire Armenian race.

–Shant Minas

When Hovig was about seventeen-years-old–I remember him sitting on my couch watching MTV. The music video for "If I Ruled the World" by Nas was introduced and Hovig became excited and said he loved that song. It soon became my favorite–partially because it was a good song–but mostly because he liked it. I obviously admired Hovig. Everyone did. Every girl had a crush on him and every guy wanted to be his best friend. And for very good reason: his warm soul genuinely shone through his smile.

People measure their life success by what they have and what they leave behind. We do not need to wonder what Hovig would have done–knowing it would inevitably have been great. But he accomplished more in his short life than many ever will. He had the greatest relationship with his family of any person I know. He had friends all over the world. His positive attitude and interests in others helped so many people succeed. He has left behind a legacy at such a young age; we cannot help but be proud of him.

There is a picture of Hovig on my desk. But I do not really need a picture to remember him… He is in my thoughts everyday.

–Lara Goenjian


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