Sunday, April 21, 2013

For Krystle

Krystle Campbell was my friend, and her wake is today. She was one of the three people murdered senselessly in the bombings at the Boston Marathon last week, and I spoke with a mutual friend this morning who summed it up succinctly by saying, "This is fucking surreal."

My friend has always had a way with words.

I've been very fortunate insofar as I haven't had to deal with too much tragedy in my life. Sure, the whole country mourned 9/11, but other than that, my experience with death has been limited to what most would consider normal. My grandparents' deaths were sad of course, but you could at least take solace in knowing that their passing was in the natural course of things.

Krystle's death, on the other hand, shouldn't have happened. She would have been 30 next month and had her whole life ahead of her. Most importantly, she was a genuinely wonderful human being who didn't deserve to have her life taken from her, and her family doesn't deserve to have to mourn for a loved one who was killed at such a young age. This injustice makes me (and plenty of others) seethingly furious as well as profoundly upset, but I take a small amount of solace in the fact that the outpouring of support from the local community, the country, and even the world has been tremendous. Nothing will bring her back, but to see my social media feeds flooded with words and pictures of encouragement from all around the globe has been heartening to say the least.

Still, I don't really know what to think of this, and the sadness I feel is completely beyond the scope of the English language.

Krystle and I met in the fifth grade at the Swan School in Medford, Massachusetts. We were even each others' boyfriend/girlfriend for a short time in the cute, innocent way that eleven-year-olds "date" each other. In fact, I remember one particular instance at Magoun Park where her friends had to hassle the shit out of me to do so much as give her a peck on the cheek, which I'd resisted up to that point not because she wasn't cute (I remember thinking that she was actually very pretty), but due to my incredible fear of kissing girls. I guess I just wasn't ready to get tied down.

Fast forward about fifteen years later, after I'd graduated from college and settled permanently in Philly. She dated a close friend of mine for a while during those years, and I always made it a point to hang out with them whenever I was home for a visit. This is when I had the privilege to get to know her as an adult, and what a joy she was to be around! She was an astute, warm, easygoing young woman whose smile was bright enough to light up an auditorium. She loved her dog Rocky and was funny as all hell, too. On top of all this, she was one of the most down-to-Earth people you could ever meet. She'd seen a lot in her life and never passed judgement on anyone as a result.

The memories I have of Krystle will stay with me forever, and I'm honored that I was a part of her life, albeit it in a very small way. Her death was untimely and unjust, but the Krystle I knew -the smart, funny, warm young woman who brought joy to those around her- will live on forever in my heart, my mind, and my soul. Even now that she's gone from this world, her memory can put a smile on my face. I hope anyone who reads this and was affected by last week's tragedy can say the same, difficult as it may be.

Krystle Campbell was my friend.