June 6, 2015

Remembering Marina Keegan’s the Opposite of Loneliness.

Marina Keegan, Opposite of Loneliness, Yale

There are just too many memorable things about Marina Keegan’s Opposite of Loneliness essay.

In 2012 the 22-year-old Yale graduate offered her commencement essay and then was killed in a car accident only days later.

Like so many of my friends, this precious girl’s words are my past, my present, and my future. At 42, I realize more and more every day that all of these things are still possible. If you haven’t done it, find your moment and do it. Not at the expense of your family or loved ones, your faith or your honor. Heavens no, but when that perfect window of opportunity opens to you, and you can go chasing your dreams again, be daring.

For so many within my age group, we’re breaking through the blur and buzz, seeing and breathing, tasting and feeling again, as people, not just someone’s parent or someone’s child. Just you, as you are.

Our children are growing up, needing us less in the every moment, and more in just those perfect precious “you have my undivided love, loyalty, and attention” moments. Not because they need to pack their lunch and tie their shoes, but because they need to know about relationships and lies and bad company and betrayals, the stark contrast between the gasp that accompanies regret and the sigh that accompanies dignity, and knock-your-socks-off love and loyalties and friends that become the family you choose for life.

They need us to look them in the eye and talk about the things that make us cringe, that save their lives, and their health, and the things they can never ever get back.

I have been blessed beyond dreams (as God so often does) that my daughter has had a collegiate high school here to attend. So much of what Marina Keegan said in her article—friendship and community and acceptance and fearless individuality—she already enjoys and celebrates with her little band of misfits. And she’s afraid to lose it next year, no doubt about it. But she also knows what she’s looking for in a college to finish her undergraduate program, and we’re pretty sure we’ve found just the right fit.

But what Marina Keegan says in this essay is more than I can impress upon our daughter. First, I’m her mother, so is she really going to listen to me? And, secondly, these are the words of a young woman just beyond where she is now, telling her to wake up, stand up, and do it all.

Maybe some of you are finding a new start to bits and pieces of your life.

A move you didn’t want, a job you hadn’t planned to lose, a relationship you didn’t choose to give up on, fill in your blank. But maybe it’s your moment to reach back in time and remember your “what if…” and redefine it.

Go back to school. Pick up a guitar. Learn to dance. Become a vegetarian. Practice yoga. Go out. Get out. Embody the energy you want to attract in the world, and surely you will.

This is my year. I’m healthy. I’m strong. I’m single. I’m going to study. I’m going to play. I’m going to dance. I’m going to pray.

My daughter is a senior in high school. So we’re going to go visit college campuses and celebrate what’s to come for her. And we’re going to Puerto Rico so she can compete in the ballroom dance world competition. And we’re going to laugh and share stories and walk on the beach and window shop and talk politics and world events and hold hands and live every moment with appreciation for one another.

And I want to go visit my friends, so by God I’m headed to Shreveport in June no matter what. And maybe look at some neighborhoods while I’m there for the future.

And I’m going to celebrate my dearest friend’s birthday in July like we’re…well, 20 years younger.

Because this is my life, and I’m hoping to share it a bit more graciously.

My life too has been the opposite of loneliness. My life has been full to the brim, even when faced with challenges I thought would break me. But my heart is full of God’s love, and my life is full of you. So I hope you’ll read Marina’s story, and though you may shed a tear surely you will smile and find a bit of you in there.



Relephant Read:

Sh*t just got Real: Relationships in your 40’s.


Author: Cristy Courtney

Editor: Renee Jahnke

Image: Keegan Family-ABC News

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Cristy Courtney