Tuesday, May 29, 2012

In Memory of Marina

She was one of my best friends and I never met her.

I can’t tell you how many times I have read and reread her poem “Bygones” -- my favorite piece of written work in the world, by far. Type in “Marina Keegan” for a burst of inspiration any time of day, any day of the week, no matter what. I had told all my friends about her, too.

This poem, right? I just happened to be watching it five minutes before I got the news. Bowled over by her words all over again, I posted a link to it at the end of my blog post earlier today, quoted from it for my post’s title (I quote Marina often), and hit “publish” when a friend sent me the article.

“Marina Keegan ’12, a prolific writer, actress and activist, died Saturday afternoon in a car accident near Dennis, Mass. She was 22.”

Are people like Marina even allowed to die? Are people who live the way Marina did even allowed to die? She lived only to be the purest and the happiest she could be in this world. She savored every moment. She wrote, "I want enough time to be in love with everything."

Her literally breathtaking poem ends with the line, “And I cry because everything is so beautiful and so short.” Well I watched the video of her poem again today, before I got the news, and I wondered at the fact that the camera cut to a black screen just as she uttered her last word, cutting out what I’m sure was a grand standing ovation. I was going to ask her permission to perform it.

I fell in love with her school when I visited and saw her perform -- I emailed her asking for college advice. She refused to answer my email but instead called me that very instant to give me a breathless five-minute version of the “why Yale is better than Harvard” talk. Who does that? When I ended up choosing Harvard a few months later, she wrote to me, “Harvard is despicable, but perhaps less so for your attainment.” I rejoiced over this line and shared her words with everyone I knew.

When I asked her for her opinion on taking a gap year, she replied, “taking a gap year is awesome and amazing if you have something awesome that you really want to do (aka travel.)” She had travelled the world. She had known herself. She had lived.

I am proud to know her, though I barely knew her, and there was so much to know. All I can say is how much her words have helped me through tough times. I expressed this to her this once and she responded, “I can't tell you sincerely enough how much it means to me that my poetry has helped you. It's really an ultimate goal of mine and I'm so happy you can relate to some of my concerns and anxieties and quandaries and happiness'!”

Let us fulfill this ultimate goal of Marina's, and learn to live from this indescribable woman.

I idolize her as a writer, knowing fully well and embracing that I can never be the writer she was. And so I close with her own words.

“So I went to Yale.
So I got good grades.
So we beat on
birds flocking south until we
circle round and realize maybe,
maybe all that running wasn’t worth it.”

-- Marina Keegan, sister, role model, angel


  1. Thank you for sharing this Ratna.

  2. This came as a shock! I recall you sharing a poem of hers. I absolutely loved it. I cannot believe she is gone.

  3. Thank you so much for sharing your experience with Marina. I cannot tell you how much it means to me to find stories like yours online. It reminds me again of what a wonderful person Marina was, and how she was able to touch so many people's lives. Every so often it hits me again, and I realize that shes not upstairs writing or doing homework, and that i won't be able to find her no matter how much I wish I could. That is why your post means so much to me...reading your experience with Marina allows me to find her again, even of only for a minute. It reminds me of how she was able to affect other peoples lives, and of the lasting impression she left us all with. Thank you so much!