For Charlene

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When I picture you in my head you are always dancing. Dancing stone cold sober with our drunk asses, dancing with me at the death cab concert at rimac, and dancing in the car on the way to get burritos.

I wish you could see yourself as we saw you. The same girl we all knew could change the world and made our lives better by being in it. You were a pain in the ass sometimes, I’ll admit it, but it was hard not to love you. You kept in touch with all of us, and always made a point to see me when you were passing through whatever town I was in. Your adventures inspired us to see the world, and the passion with which you lived your life inspired me to ask more of mine.

It’s hard for me to refer to you in past tense.

It is such a waste, Charlene. There’s no other way to put it. A waste of a beautiful person who didn’t understand her worth or was perhaps burdened by it. A waste of a brilliant mind and a heart with so much love to give. A waste of the metabolism that could eat combo #3’s with double rogan josh from punjabi tandoori on the daily and still rock anthro’s smallest size.

I miss you. We all miss you.

I can’t help but believe we’ve failed you. Not individually, but collectively. The grad program that didn’t provide you enough support or guidance. All the times each of us shrugged off a request to visit or chat because we were too busy. Our naive faith in your strong spirit – the same one that pushed you to find a cure for AIDS, and also made you feel like you could battle life alone. Until you couldn’t.

I so wish I had come to visit you on your birthday. That I had heard the urgency in your texts and had dropped everything and run to you. I don’t know if it would have changed things. I don’t know which answer I want to hear.

To me, you’re not gone. You’ll never be gone. You’ll always be dancing – bobbing to some Format song on the beach at dusk, eyes closed, hands up, shiny black hair swinging around your face as the sun sets behind you. 

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For Charlene

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