Life has a way of happening even when we have other plans. Life has no respect for anyone's dreams, visions, desires, families, friends, ambitions, social economic status, race and definitely not our love lives. This past week, a tragedy struck the entire Salem College Family. One of our beloved suddenly left us. With only 25 years of greatness and life well lived, she bade adieu to all of us. Hmmm, life. What is this life? What is this life that allows us a taste of goodness and then takes it away from us? This life that takes angels and leaves behind demons? What is this life? This life that makes it so that we can have someone here today and gone tomorrow. Life has reminded us all once again that it is fleeting and we all should live each day like it is our last, not forgetting to forgive, to show grace, to love endlessly, to say "I love you," thank you," or "I'm sorry" in time. For a day might come that it would be too late to say any of these words.
Caroline was a gem like no other. She stood out. Shall we start with her loving personality, her feminism, or her ever bold lipsticks? I like to think of Caroline as a being of her own caliber. The day god made her, he was in no rush. He took his gentle time to mold the clay, set the stars, tune up the sun and breathe upon her a life-filling, life-inspiring, life-fulfilling, life-commanding, a life-leading breath of being. Her light was so bright that it was contagious and captivating. No one interacts with Caroline and shrugs off the conversation. She left everyone she interacted with much more fuller and better. She was one of those stars that needed no introduction. She was so welcoming that after only one conversation with her, you would feel as if you have known her for an entire existence. Everyone who has come in contact with this gem is forever, lovingly, ruined because there is no other like her; none can be compared to her. She is described as:
"A wickedly brilliant, wickedly funny and unfathomably warm woman." - M.B
"One of the best cheerleaders I've been blessed to have in my corner - R.V
"One who inspired women to love themselves, not because they conformed to certain people's idea of beauty, but because they are valuable just as they are. She loved bright lipstick and speaking her mind! We will miss you but pieces of you will continue to motivate and inspire us." - C.Y
"The very embodiment of loving yourself. She taught by example that nobody should ever make you feel bad about the way you look or what you're wearing, or really being your true self. Caroline was the person who showed and inspired in me the self-confidence I sorely needed at several points in my life. She was a fierce, strong and magnanimous woman who had a deep impact on my life, and the lives of everyone she met. Her confidence, contagious smile and love for everything in life will be deeply missed." E.L
"What a feminist looks/sounds/acts like. She truly embodied the fierceness, brilliance, wit and everything else that comes with being a Salem Woman" - B.L.B
"The best person I've ever known. I know you're resting easy somewhere, singing a song, making the whole place brighter for it."- KH
For me, I say that Caroline was an encyclopedia of goodness, of love, of courage, of kindness, of authority and audacity. She was - and her memory is of - everything that the world needs today to be a better and safe place to dwell in.
You know, times like this commands respect, a certain kind of unfathomable stillness that arrests every living soul; regardless of where you are, who you are or what you are doing. This is another reminder that life is precious and we are just like a mist, here today and gone tomorrow. I do not think that most people are afraid of dying. I think that most of us are afraid of our existence vanishing with us and our memories buried alongside our bodies in our caskets. See, that will never be true for my Salem sister, Caroline. She transcended all stereotypes, all circumstances, all cultures and even people. She made friends easily and she made everyone feel special and important.
I got to know Caroline my sophomore year of college, and her audacity just astounded me. She was unapologetically bold and beautiful. She lived more than most of us would ever dare to. My junior or senior year of college, I remember seeing her at Salem square and basically telling her that I have no idea where life is steering me because my vision had begun to change. She laughed the Caroline laugh and then gave me the Caroline special of warmth. She said, "Don't be in a hurry. You will figure it out. Your journey would uncover itself in due time, be patient and enjoy getting there." She has a way of relieving you of your burden without even trying to and exchanging that weariness with reassurance and love.
Caroline, even after you have left us to be with other angelic souls, you are still making waves. Oh, sista! I hope that the #kissesforcaroline campaign lives on. That every day, week, month, year, that someone from one part of the world will post a bold/gorgeous/daring picture of him/herself wearing bold lips in honor of our sweet Caroline with the hashtag #kissesforcaroline. Caroline, I hope that all that you stand for lives on. I know that your memory and our love for you will continue to live on in our hearts.
Sweet Caroline, even with the little taste of interaction we had, I am a better person, and my lenses of life and time have forever been changed for the better. I cannot imagine the heartache that your loved ones must be going through. So I say a little prayer for peace, for hope, for reassurance for them, that they may believe and trust that you are in good hands. That you are with other angels like yourself.
Cheers to you, Caroline. May your memories forever remain in our hearts.
Your Salem sister