Tuesday, January 13, 2015

In Memoriam.

In some ways, my first tattoo was for you. I'd wanted one for years, but your death reminded me of how many tomorrows I don't own. I miss you today. I looked at my planner and started to write down all my important dates... Yes, your birthday is still being written down in my planner.

I look at that tattoo and remember the pain and beauty that came with that work of art. In some ways, very much like you. The beauty of who you are marked by such pain for something very permanent.

I want to remember you.

I fear forgetting your face. Your voice, more than anything. I wish I had your phone number to listen to your voicemail.... it sounds creepy and awkward, but I miss your voice. Your laugh.

How do you remember someone who has died? Do acts of remembrance have to be cheesy? I inherently think folks are rolling their eyes every time I mention just how much I miss you. I just do. I can't help the days (like today) when I feel like crying while looking at your Facebook photos.

Every once in a while, I feel a little lost. I try to muster up some courage and keep living my life. I hold onto words you said, images you shared, and videos posted of you. That will be enough for today.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Short, but good.

Somehow my thoughts floated to the moments and stories of when we all began to learn about your death.

I wept and needed to hold hands with Mariah. We later went to the Farmer's Market and ate lots, walked lots, and tried to flirt with a cute Filipino boy. [Huge fail, by the way.]

Paula and Aseem laughed as they imagined you saying, "And I am expecting a huge tattoo of my face somewhere on your body!"

Yes, we were all upset you were gone, but we also had incredible peace about your going.

And maybe that's what the evidence of a life well-lived is... sadness mixed with an indescribable lightness and peace at the person who's gone.

Your life was short, but quite wonderful.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Blessed Be Your Name.

If no one's told you yet, grief isn't linear. Seriously. You think you've 'gotten over it', or that you're not as much of a hot mess as you were 6 months ago, and that all changes in a heart beat. Or for me, in a song line.

I was sitting in our church's youth group, and we were graced by a friend who led us in musical worship. We sang a few songs, and I surprised myself by branching out and harmonizing as well as adding runs and such to what we were singing.

We began to sing, "Blessed Be Your Name", a song affirming that God's name will be blessed despite the circumstances, whether joyful or filled with grief. I remembered singing this song in college, grateful for something familiar.

We began to sing the last verse, "You give and take away." Something in my heart hurt. It was a soft tinge in my chest, but enough to draw me close to tears. I thought of Rachelle, and how she's been taken away. Given, yes. Taken, yes. I had to remember what we were singing, that God is good in the middle of joy and the middle of grief. He is to be blessed.

I didn't realize how difficult it would be to finish the song. To continue to bless, engage, and struggle with the reality of Rachelle and that she's actually gone.

The struggle is apparent in my journal entry from last month:
  I still can't believe it. Suicide. Why, lady? What was so terrible you/we couldn't work through it? Weren't we enough to get you through? Or had we done such a job of not caring for you well that we drove you to this?
  The grief, the questions still surprise me. I feel a deep pang of grief when I fall asleep sometimes. I silently cry into my pillow as I fall asleep. The sadness may never go away. My want to remember and honor you, either. I don't want to forget what you mean to me. Your voice, your laughter, your annoying way of making me laugh.
  When do you let go? When do you stop fighting the loss, the fact that its happened and accept it?
 Blessed be Your name, Jesus.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Cover her ears!

Today I had a pretty funny memory of Rachelle. I was getting ready for my staff meeting today, and it just flitted into the room and landed on my shoulder. And then made me smile.

My Senior year in college, we were all about getting folks intentional gifts. That year, a few friends decided to get my friend Christina a guitar for her birthday. She had no idea it was meant to be a surprise.

There's another Christina in this story. For the sake of being clear, we'll call her Q (for her last name).


The night we're presenting Christina the guitar, we're all together for our campus meeting. There are about 200 folks getting ready to gather. Q, is really excited about the guitar and is shooting the breeze before our meeting starts. Clear as day, Q asks, "So, Christina, how do you like your new guitar?"

Rachelle makes an UH-OH face at Q, and proceeds to cover Christina's ears in the futile hope that she hadn't heard and therefore been tipped off to the surprise.

Rachelle's face, plus the attempt to rectify the situation, as well as the foiled surprise made me smile this morning. Don't worry, Christina still loved the guitar.

Friday, January 3, 2014

My Love.

I hear this song often, and I always think of Rachelle. Some days, it's incredibly bittersweet, and even then I try to remember how great it was to have Rachelle around to laugh with, talk with, and eat amazing food with.

Here's my friend's tribute to a wonderful lady. [Click here.]

Sunday, December 29, 2013

happy birthday to me!

I missed you a lot today. You always made a big deal of my birthday. You drove 40 minutes to make it to my birthday, made sure I got what I wanted for dinner, and hugged me a lot.

You would have reminded me that they day was about ME.
Reminded me that everyone loved me, that's why they wanted to hang out with me.
You would have wolf-whistled at me so many times that I blushed.
You would have made sure we sang 'happy birthday' at church.
You would have yelled something ridiculous at some point today.
You would have given me that special smile that reminded me that I am super special to you.

I miss you. I miss the way you smile, the way you laugh, the way you always made it on the dance floor with me. You would have been with me ALL day long, from waking up to church to lunch to dinner to cleaning up.

I miss your face. Your voice. Your generosity and care for me. I miss holding your hand. Making faces at you from across the room.

And yet... I am grateful for memories of the day of our baptism. We baptized two little ones at church today, and as I remembered my own baptism... there you were in the memory. Holding my hand as we prayed, smiling at me as we all jumped in the pool after singing a couple songs. Your joy. Oh, your joy on that day.

Sunday, December 1, 2013


On a cold night Rachelle, Sarah and I went to the "Will you B here?" Show at UCLA's Royce Hall. We'd engaged all day with the epidemic of Hepatitis B, and learned how Asian Americans are more prone to contract the disease.

It'd been a hard day, but a great one. Rachelle had often come with me to Latino events, learned more about Mexican culture, and understood my love of everything Native American. That day, I spent learning about something that was incredibly important to her. We'd been through displays, awareness videos... more than anything, I was glad to be spending so much time with her.

We scored tickets to the culmination of the campaign, where lots of Asian American artists brought their talents of dancing, singing, and musicality to the stage. We were delighted by the likes of Joseph Vincent, Clara Chung, Quest Crew, and others. It was a night when I knew I was experiencing something amazing.

At the end of the night, we were walking toward the dorms. I'd mentioned to Rachelle how much I love Hok from Quest Crew... without missing a beat she said, "Then let's wait out here for him!" She had this look in her eye, letting me know we weren't going anywhere until Hok came out. She also knew how much Sarah loved Clara Chung, so it just made sense to stay.

We stayed by the back door of Royce, waiting in the cold, and giggling as we made eye contact with each other. We were really those girls waiting outside the building for these artists we were slightly fond of. 

Rachelle asked the security guard if he knew of Quest's whereabouts. He let us know they were packing up their stuff and were making their way out. As soon as Hok made it to the back door Rachelle yells, "HOK TOKONOSHI! MY FRIEND SOL THINKS YOU'RE AMAZING, AND WANTS TO HUG YOU!"

Uhh....thanks, Rachelle! I was embarrassed but still smiling like a fool. It was really Hok! I introduced myself like the starstruck fool I was, and he leaned in and gave me a hug! AAHHH. I then asked if we could take a photo. He graciously accepted. 

There's no way around it, I miss this girl. She inspired me to live my dreams, to stay in a strategic location to meet folks I love and am slightly intimidated by. She made a dream come true by being her crazy, stubborn Rachelle self.

And for that, I am grateful.