An Open Letter of the Thank You I Never Got to Say

 

A recent tragedy occurred that had attempted to unweave the very core of my existence, along with many others that Christa Elliott Ravenna had touched along her journey. At 51 years old, it was a life taken too soon for such a free spirit.

After seeing a crisis counselor a couple days preceding her death, I had questioned multiple times during our session, why? Why me, but most importantly — why you? At the end of our session, my counselor walked me to the lobby. Before I walked out of the door, he pulled me to the side and removed a quarter from his trousers. He held it firmly between his thumb and index finger and said, “remember, there’s two sides to why: why and why you.”

I’ve continuously pondered this moment in an attempt to make sense of the senseless.

 

What death has taught me about life

 

I’d like to believe that the why was that I not only understood Christa’s story, but was destined to tell it.

We saw ourselves in one another — a topic we frequently visited as we would compare our similarities for hours on end.

Christa was always striving to become the best version of herself and encouraged others to do the same. If any good could come out of this tragedy, it would be for us to become better, kinder and more understanding people. To always treat everyone we encounter with the kindness and generosity that she had consistently extended towards everyone that she crossed paths with.  

 

 

Christa aimed to be the change she wished to see in the world, more specifically, in regards to humanity. She had discovered on her personal journey to self-actualization that this was the key to life: to not step over others to achieve your goals, rather rise by lifting others. I saw this in effect with the sheer amount of lives she touched.

I’m going to make it a life mission to pay forward her kindness and generosity and know through that, she’ll always be with me.

 

Somewhere over the rainbow bridge: The thank you I never got to say

 

Christa,

 

I didn’t get the chance to speak at your funeral — and I hope that you can forgive me. Even if people had been allowed to speak on your behalf, I wasn’t ready to put my feelings into words. I wanted what I said about you, one of the most influential adult figures I have been blessed to have had in my life, to be perfect.

Let me begin by saying that I miss you more than you could ever imagine.

In the course of four years, you bravely grasped the shattered pieces that was my family in a grandiose attempt to glue us all back together again. That was one of the most inspiring things about you — you saw not who people were, rather who they could be. You were excited by the possibilities, wholeheartedly believing in the people you loved, even when we didn’t have the strength to believe in ourselves.

In order for the people you cared for to achieve their fullest potential, you became their sun — a bright, yellow light that engulfed those few, lucky individuals with support and warmth. You were possibly my biggest fan, next to my mom and dad of course. I knew I could always count on you.

You were a diplomat through and through, meaning that you always stood proud and firm in what you believed in, even if that meant standing alone. You lived life with such an integrity that it would put a priest to shame. Even though you could be stubborn in these moralities, you always had everyone’s best interest at heart.

You had a way of making every experience an adventure, even if that simply meant making a trip to the grocery store. We made so many tender memories together that it’s hard to distinguish which is my favorite. I’ll never forget how special you made me feel.  

Two days before the accident, I had an interview for an internship. I had called you right after to give you the update. Immediately after I finished my story, you asked if I had sent them a handwritten thank you. I lightly chuckled. Only you would take the time to write out your gratitude during the digital takeover. After confessing that I didn’t write the thank you and didn’t have a card to do so, you drove to my apartment with a pack of thank you cards in hand.

Your laugh was infectious. The sound of that sweet melody meant that freedom from the day's stressors was on its way. It’s the last thing I think about every night before I go to bed and as soon as I wake up — a soundtrack that I listen to on repeat. A reminder that life is truly only as good as your mindset, and after all of the struggles you faced that could’ve made you bitter, somehow made you love more.

I’m eternally grateful of all the good you tried to make for my family and I. Out of all of the generous gifts you had given me, the most tender is the relationship I now have with my dad. I firmly believe that you are what finally brought us together. By your side, he was the happiest I have ever seen him in my 20 years. For that, I’m forever thankful.

Thank you. I love you, and I’ll be seeing you.

 

Forever yours,

Rach