She barely topped 5 feet and her characteristic red hair was your first warning that she was a firecracker. She never met an opinion that she didn’t hold, but you were welcome to disagree with her, it wasn’t her fault that you were wrong. She knew who she was and what she wanted from life and she wasn’t afraid to go get it.
We didn’t always get along so well, and certainly had our clashes. We were two strong women, both too young to know the importance of a good ally and devil’s advocate. She was more set in who she was, I was still searching. I’ll never forget the night we sat around a table and had a full blown discussion with a huge group over changing last names after marriage. Her opinion was that he could take her name or shut up about it already. I wonder if that ever changed. Another time, near the elections, a friend was going down a very conservative path (not too surprising, we were a church group) and she was getting riled. I stepped in and turned the conversation off of politics with the comment that we probably didn’t all hold the same views. She thanked me for it later. Yet another time, we shared our fears of getting older without a significant boyfriend, especially once her younger sister got engaged.
She graduated college at 20 and moved across the country to join Teach for America. After her two years in the Corps, she stayed on as first a stewardship coordinator for the school and then their director of development. She met her fiance and they changed each other’s lives. She tried to help me get a job with her school district. I’ll never forget her follow up call when she found out the interviewer hadn’t ever called me back. She was furious. She apologized for me and then made the other person call and apologize to me.
She lived life, pardon the expression, balls to the wall. If she wanted something, she went after it. She was as enthusiastic about having fun as she was about working, helping people, and being a good person. Possibly my favorite quote of hers was, “just because the gospel is offensive, doesn’t mean you have to be,” because it just sums up her belief system.
I don’t think I’d spoken to her since early in 2010. There were a few tweets sent to each other. Adding to google+ circles. But the drifting that comes from two people who weren’t overly close that have moved to different places. I did tease her about becoming a Duke Blue Devil this past fall. After all, she’d been pretty adamantly anti-Duke during our days together.
There is a vacuum in the universe without her. I truly cannot comprehend her not being alive somewhere here on this Earth. After all the death that has surrounded me this year, hers is hitting me the hardest. She was my age. They’d just gotten engaged the night before. She lived life with such vivacity that she cannot, should not, just not be here.
All across the spectrum, we who have known her are hurting, mourning, broken in pieces on the ground. The hole she leaves is huge. I see her face when I close my eyes. I know we have to pick up the pieces, gather the scattered remnants of our hearts, and carry on. She’d probably have a quip for us about moping about if she was alive to share it with us today. I will do my best to honor her memory and live life with the vivaciousness that drew people in towards her.
My friend, we may not have always seen eye to eye and we may not have been the best at keeping in touch; but you changed my life. You have always been someone who has inspired and amazed me. I do not like this world without you in it. The world is a dimmer place without your bright light, your spark. Until we meet again on the other side, know that you are loved and you are missed.