This piece originated as a journal entry on February 6. As my school community gathers to remember our classmate, An, this evening, I wanted to reflect on how this tragedy has impacted my worldview and relationships even in the two weeks since it unfolded.
Yesterday, Wellesley’s community lost one of our own. She was a sophomore — my age. I never met her, but I knew of her. I knew enough to know that she meant so much to so many. To know how deeply her loss will be felt.
When I got the email announcing her death, I thought there must have been some kind of mistake. People like us aren’t supposed to die. People like us are supposed to take chances and love too fiercely. People like us are supposed to fill our lungs with authenticity and breathe life into these crumbling halls. We’re meant to carry an imprint of these years on our palms.
But I read the message again, and there she was: reduced to a single sentence about her major, her hometown, her campus involvement. All her complexities, all the starlight and suffering she carried, all her personhood pressed flat.
I’m shaken by the visceral reminder that our youth does not make us invincible. But even more, I’m disappointed that this institution did not do better by our classmate and dear friend. Wellesley as a college doesn’t have the best track record for acting with the best interests of students in mind — even its best intentions often feel moored in protocol and financial obligations. Wellesley as a community, though, reverberates with passion and compassion. The incredible people who’ve come to this place demonstrate remarkable tenacity in the face of struggle.
We are at our best when we create and connect genuinely in spite of sometimes-crushing expectations. When we let our authentic selves be seen, like light seeping through the cracks in these old stone walls. Even when it scares us.
And the best we can do for An is to take those chances more, rather than less. The best we can do for An is to love one another fiercely.