Even before I had this space to write, I remember writing about this day.
The number 23 for some reason always had so many events tied to it. My brother who I grew up completely crazy about was born on January 23rd. My mom was born on March 23rd. My parents’ anniversary is on October 23rd. Soon anyone’s birthday that was on the 23rd stuck in my memory. My friend’s brother’s birthday is on May 23rd. My friend’s crush’s birthday was on August 23rd. My mom’s friend’s son’s birthday is on April 23rd. My first nephew was born on June 23rd. My first niece was born on December 23rd. In the middle of all these birthdays was a non-birth though. Adrienne Sovinee passed away on February 23rd, 2006.
Adrienne was a classmate in my first year at UIC. She was in my very first graphic design course, and she also worked at the checkout counter in the audio/visual lab at the old Jewel building. I wasn’t friends with her, and I’d probably never had a long conversation, but I thought she was such a cool person. The way people look up to celebrities or role models or older siblings, I kind of looked up to her.
There were at least three things about her I aspired to emulate, one of which I even went through with. She had these nifty black-rimmed glasses before they became a trend. There was nothing wrong with my eyesight, but I bought a prescription-less black frame anyway that year when we were visiting Karachi. The other two things that I didn’t get to, included an ear cartilage piercing and red streaks.
Other than seeming very cool and graceful, Adrienne didn’t really talk much but when she did respond to Matthew in a critique, she seemed so pleasant and nice. It makes me remember that none of us know what’s going on inside ourselves, let alone what others might be going through. I wish she could have known that without even knowing her very well, she was someone I looked up to enough to imitate.
We’re here for such a short time, and there’s so much love and appreciation on this earth. But when we become entangled within ourselves in different ways, maybe we forget that all of that love has been placed within us, for us to give and receive.
I hope with sincerity she’s in a better place. I also hope that we can make those who are with us now feel loved, and remember in our own tough times, that each of us was so specially chosen to be here in this world—to love, to appreciate, to learn, to grow, to give, to make it a better place, and that we all mean so much more to others than we realize.