Yi was married to Zanga for 11 years, but Zanga died from ovarian cancer on November 20, 2014, and left her husband and two children.
But Yi stayed strong for the sake of their children, and decided to commemorate the anniversary of Zanga’s death by writing love letters to hand out to complete strangers.
Yi told BuzzFeed Life that in September he “could count the number of days until the anniversary date. I didn’t like that feeling. I dreaded every day that got closer to it.”
Not wanting to dwell any longer, he changed his mindset and decided to turn Novvember 20 into a day of joy and anticipation by remembering the best moments he had with his wife.
It took him a month and a half to write 100 love letters based on conversations and memories he and Zanga shared during their 15 years together.
Friends encouraged him to publicize them, and under the name 100LoveNotes, they helped him launch earlier this month a website featuring all of the letters.
On Friday, on the first anniversary of his wife’s passing, Yi and his kids handed out the 100 notes to people walking the streets of his hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina.
Several friends and news outlets joined the family, helping to hand out the notes.
“I wanted them to experience how it felt to give this gift, rather than just be a spectator,” he said.
Yi’s daughter Anna handed out about 70 of the notes, while Yi, his son Alex, and the rest of the party handed out the remaining 30.
Some people accepted the notes and walked away, while others asked for the backstory.
The entire process was incredibly healing for Yi. “For the last month, I was really looking forward to doing this with my children,” he said.
Yi also asked people in his Facebook post to honor their loved ones using the hashtag #100LoveNotes, which has sparked a love fest on Twitter and Instagram.
The hashtag, which was trending on Facebook last week, shows people spreading their love in creative ways, as Yi had asked them to.