I woke up yesterday to the devastating news that you had passed. I have spent the better part of the morning trying to wrap my mind around that fact; I still don’t understand it. It is impossible to imagine a world without you in it. And while I don’t have words, I do have memories. I hope that, in sharing them, I am able to express all that your friendship means to me and all of the love my heart holds for you.
My first memory with you is freshman week at Dartmouth. I remember standing in the Russell Sage hallway as you and Magda had a conversation in Latin (or was it Ancient Greek?) and being so intimidated by your brilliance and so inspired by your infectious joy. As our friendship grew, it was your loving nature, extreme care for others, and joy for life that stuck with me most. You had this laugh that filled the air; I can still hear it when I think of you. Your hugs always made everything feel better; I could really use one now. Everything you did was done with an intensity and passion that honored the moment, no matter how small. I learned so much from you over the years.
My first year at Dartmouth was so hard. I felt so incredibly out of place and there were countless times that you were there to listen and to encourage me. Like that one very late night freshman spring where I was having computer issues and needed to write a paper. You lent me your laptop, shared some words of encouragement, gave me a hug, and checked in the next day to make sure I was ok. We had a good laugh about that one. It might seem like such an insignificant moment, but it has stayed with me all these years.
And then there was that time sophomore or junior year where I ran into you on my way to Rocky and, I will never remember exactly how it came up, but I made some self-deprecating comment about my limp and you turned to me and said: “Olivia, I love the way you walk. It’s like you’re swaying and dancing everywhere you go. I see you from a distance and think- ‘there’s my friend, Olivia’. It’s beautiful”. Without knowing it, you made one of the things I hated most about myself into something special. And ever since then, whenever I trip or fall or see my reflection walking, I remember those words and it feels like you’re saying them to me all over again.
One of my last memories with you was when we met up in Brooklyn. You had messaged me that you were in NYC and we were meeting up for tea. As I walked to meet you, your smile and laughter greeted me first and then you swooped me into one of those incredible hugs that lifted my feet off the ground. After you put me down, you gave me a sunflower and told me you loved sunflowers because they seem so happy. And now, whenever I see a sunflower, I remember your smile and your laughter and your joy.
You once shared that when you were conducting, you reminded the orchestra that they were part of something much larger than their individual pieces. The music was a whole unit and everyone needed to hear everyone else in order to play their part well. You were talking about how to get a large group of talented musicians to play a single piece of music together, I know, but in that moment, I also realized that you had lived your entire life as if you were conducting an orchestra. It’s in the truly seeing each other and in listening deeply that we can make the biggest impact in this thing called life.
Thank you for your friendship, Zeke. I will carry it with me forever.
Sending you so many hugs and so much love.