Wednesday, January 16, 2013

In Memory of Christine

2010 - Will Rogers Beach


Organic, expressive, bright, Spirited.  These are the words that are often used to describe Christine V. Le.  

I met Christine at a VSA general meeting, I was drawn to her energy and pulled in by her smile.  She joined because she was proud of her heritage.  She became an essential cabinet member and was nominated most spirited.  During Tet I remember how beautiful she looked in an Ao Dai.  She rocked that Ao Dai.

She had huge presence at the annual VSA culture show first dancing, then acting and finally playing a story telling clown in the show Monsoon - Gió Mùa. This was the perfect roll for her because Christine was a story teller.  I remember one time we were resting after a culture show and she fell asleep in my lap at Huan's house.  She murmured, "I love your inner thigh pillows."

Christine made her presence known in other communities - SASC, Dance and her Coop where she proudly displayed her recycled fashion.  Christine was expressive in these spaces and found her identity through culture, dance and poetry where she captivated everyone she performed for.

As we became closer, she would reach out to me, "DANCE WITH ME CHRIS!"  We took pictures together and in everyshot, she had her tongue, goofy.  If she wasn't goofy she would snuggle up against my body.  And anyone who has been touched my Christines can contest that her touch was electric.

I remember seeing her bald - shocked, "MY PARENTS ARE SO MAD, BUT I HAD TO DO IT!"  It became clear that her body and the world around it suffocated her spirit.  Her hair, her shoes, her clothes all had to be stripped away in order for her to feel like she can breathe in order to feel her surroundings.  Christine wanted to feel and experience everything.  Her hands callaused by touch, her feet rough from walkng bare foot.

After college, she accompanied me on a road trip down to LA.  She invited me into her home where she proudly excalimed, "do you want Buon Cuon!? my mom picked it up from the OC!"  On this road trip we talked about love, privilege and relationships.  Her mind was always on overdrive - digesting ideas and trying to understand the world.

We met up again - she carried a nalgene water bottle that looked like it had been run over, but she was very attached to it.  THough it served no practical use, it had become a part of her as it went along with her on every experience.   She showed me her binder full of ideas written on scraps of paper. a collection of her thoughts on colorful pieces of paper.  She wanted to open up a dance school. 

We went to the beach where she rolled around in the sand proclaiming that she can feel each grain on her skin.  "CHRIS! I LOVE THE SUN!"  She screamed.

I saw her in downtown LA.  She was in a car and screamed my name one last time with such enthusiasm and life.  Her voice echos in my mind.  

The last thing that she said to me was through a facebook message, through a poetic conversation

November 23, 2011
im ready for a performance chris
like
nasty everything packed
and fantastic
spastic
blast it
the lyrics
and movements
bloody secrets
please
i need it
sheeez
help me
pleaswe
when
can we be 
freeeee
so necessary
for meeee
to releease
these things
but maybe
it'll take some time

its always
its constant
marvelous
no stoppin it
pero
es muy necesario por
todos
to slowly
tu tu
gap nhau
trong
mot noi
"Tu tu gap nhau tron mot noi"

Which means - Eventually we will meet again in one place, in heaven.

I believe in heaven, Christine has found the freedom she was looking for.  This earth, this world could no longer contain her spirit that was meant to fly.

Dim Sum before her funeral - CAL VSA

Before entrance - suit is bursting at the seams

Tearing up during Eulogy

Amazing art piece

Highschool Tribute

Around her art

A couple of folks came up to me to tell me that my eulogy greatly captured how they felt about Christine.  This was important to me.  The speakers before me reflected on her high school life and I hoped that what I presented as her college life was a fair representation.  I prepared for my speech by light-heartedly pulling 5 pieces of tissue at the podium.  I was doing well until I teared up and delivered the rest of the speech with a strange frog in my throat.  Unlike my cousin Michelle's funeral in 2009 where I downed a beer before speaking, I was able to continue without experiencing painful heartburn and heartache.

Every time I think about Christine I murmur, "im mad at you."  Mad at her for not reaching out.  Mad at her for not properly saying good bye.  Mad at her for not responding to my text to her wishing her a happy birthday a year ago.  

I imagine myself intervening ... somehow... just being there at the right time to stop her from taking a route that she believed was the only way.  I've heard so many stories that end in, "...and thanks to so-and-so, I'm still here today."  And I wish I could step back in time to find her to make her understand that her life is worth living.  That many more people need to watch her dance, that she needs to create more art and experience everything this earth has to offer.  I'm mad at you Christine for not letting me show you and I'm mad at myself for not finding you in time.

1 comment:

Dean Grey said...

Uggh!

This post made me tear up for so many different reasons.

Yes, Christine's spirit was meant to fly, I just don't think she realized it could fly while still living.

There's not much you could've done for her that you didn't already do. It sounded like she had made up her mind. The only one who could've saved Christine was Christine. Speaking from experience, that I'm sure of.

I'm sorry for you loss. May she finally rest in peace and send you little signs of her presence when you need them most.

Big (((HUGS)))

-Dean