To Mani, with Love.

I am going to spend the rest of my life trying to be the person Mani thought I could be.

Her memory pushes me toward goodness, toward boldness, toward love and light alike. When I read her words, I can almost feel her arms around me – quiet, soft, the slightest shift in the universe that allows us to be together for a breath. Since her passing, a day has not moved forward without a moment for her and her alone. Usually I find those times when I’m outside. I trace her name in cloud formations. I hear her laugh in the rain.

Mani told me once that I would’ve liked the storms in Durango, the way the thunder ricocheted against the mountains. She invited me down and I intended to visit in the spring.

Her absence grants a new weight to the presence of my friends. I marvel more often at their existence – I am louder in my love than ever before. Her memory guides my self-love, too. The night before I left my abusive ex, I dreamt about her for the first time and her memory gave me the courage to go. My walk to work on the day I quit was filled with her voice, her words, her heart. I imagined what she would say about my manager’s cruelty. I knew she would never want me to suffer and, for that reason, I was strong enough to resign my position.

As I write this post, I am rereading the letter she gave me when I left high school and I am in awe. It almost feels like bragging to share her words, but I feel the intense desire to show how her love made me see myself differently – as if we could do anything, as if I could be anyone because of how she loved me.

“Dear Krista,

Hello! I just wanted to write you a little letter, mostly because I think you deserve it and I don’t know if you hear these things enough. I think you are one of the most beautiful people I know, not only on the outside (which you are) but inside. You are so good to everyone. You make me so envious – no that’s not the right word. You make me want to strive to be a better person. You just show me that there can be such beauty and kindness in the world, and every time I’m feeling like all there is badness and ugliness, I see you and I just know that there’s got to be something better out there. I know life isn’t perfect for you, and if I could take all the bad in your life and live it for you, I would. If I could carry all your burdens for you, I would. Because of every person I’ve met in my whole life deserves it it’s you. You deserve everything good life has to offer. And I wanted to tell you these things because your going to go to college soon, and I wanted you to sincerely know that you’ve changed my life. You’ve given me a goal to strive for, a person to want to be, and shown me that there is such beauty in the world. I didn’t want you to go without hearing these things because they are true, and I’m too much of a weenie to say them in person. I’m only sorry that I can’t give you more than this lousy note. I’ll always remember you, Krista Lee, and the profound significance you’ve had on my life.

Mani Nitara E.

PS – I know you’re not graduating for like two more months but my hope is that knowing these things will help you through those two months. It might not. And maybe you’ll read this and go “Gee that Mani is weird” but I thought you ought to know that someone thinks highly of you. I love you deeply, Krista. You’ll change the whole world someday just like you changed me.

PPS – That wasn’t supposed to sound so cheesy, but whatever.”

Mani, this wasn’t a lousy note. I am still becoming, but I promise I will carry you with me wherever I go. I’ll continue to seek you out in constellations, in clouds, in dreams. Soon enough, I’ll have your words etched into my skin with ink and we will never be apart again.

I love you, kiddo.


I always will.


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