Monday, July 27, 2009

Farewell, Tara Santelices, 23

Her heart finally gave up at 4AM today.

After being rushed to the ICU two days ago, Tara Santelices, 23 passed away at The Medical City due to cardiac arrest.

It has been almost a year-long struggle for Tara and her family - parents, Larry and Anne; her sisters Iya and Gita and all her friends who loved her dearly. Through this tragic event she had inspired so many people - both young and old - to pull together for a common cause. Brief though her life may have been, it was a life that touched so many, mine included, teaching me once more of the possibilities of love and hope, reminding me about how one should never put things off, or leave anything unsaid.

I went to visit her two weeks ago because something inside of me was drawn to re-visiting her story, to see how life had changed for her and her family in the year since the accident. I expected to be depressed and so I prepared myself mentally and emotionally for the encounter. Instead, I found a miracle and was blessed to have a front-row seat to one family's devotion, unconditional love and hope.

I read somewhere that, "We are conditioned to think that our lives revolvearound great moments. But great moments often catch us unaware-beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one." I was gifted with the chance to look and be with Tara up close. To hold her and tell her to give it a fight, to thank her for touching all our lives so deeply in the way that she did. I held her hand, and she gripped it firmly back. Doctors will say that it was probably reflex, it really doesn't matter now, it is one moment that I shall treasure all my life.

Tara's loss reminds us of the brevity of life, of how we need to live fully each day, never setting aside for tomorrow what we can do in the moment. I thank God for giving me the privilige to write her story, from beginning to end. I had hesitated on visiting her but chose instead to heed my inner voice, and I am grateful that I did because now I have no regrets. I thank HIM too for hiw wisdom and guidance, had I sent in the story a day later, it would have been too late. I will miss Tara but I am thankful for that moment that I shared with her before she died, and to be able to do that one last thing for her and her parents.

We pray now for the loved ones she has left behind and that in her leaving, justice may be served - for her and all other victims of heinous crime.

There is nothing like loss to remind you to embrace life ever so tightly. "Grief, breaks down the barriers of ego, to open up the spirit." We thank God for Tara's brief but full life. May her leaving remind us all of how we must not take things for granted, of how important it is to show love, kindness and affection whenever we can because tomorrow is never guaranteed to us.