You told me to always keep writing. And thats what I’ll do.
The first time I met you, your spirit stood tall, like a Titan. And so it does still.
A part of me still doesn’t believe the words I read from that email. A part of me thinks its in a bad dream. Even as I write this, I imagine me returning to New York and casually stopping by your office at John Jay, recounting tales of Dublin or Barcelona, even talking about In a Grove. I imagine your powerful voice speaking at the annual Vera Reception, seeing each other at Alumni reunions or at a conference. But this isn’t a dream.
Abby, words have become my tools, my hope. I am happy that I got to share my journey in Europe with you, but even happier I was able to read your words in response. I am reading them now, and am unable to deal with the reality that such wisdom and clarity your soul had is no longer here with us, not in the physical sense at least.
You were so much more than what anyone ever asked for. Not only were you a teacher, but you were a friend, a peer, an advisor, and a mentor. You supported us, pushed us, fought for us. You were a believer, that we, that the world, could be better. I only knew you for a small part of your spectacularly inspiring, epic, and beautiful life. Even so, the lives of your students and Vera family have been blessed. For that, we are grateful.
If there is something I wish I could have said one more time, it would be thank you. Thank you for the Vera Fellowship. Thank you for your wisdom and placing me in Common Justice. Thank you for your Scholarship. Thank you for everything. If I could hug you, I would. But I know, somehow, someway, maybe even if it just travels for eternity in the wind, you can hear it.
My last thank you is this. As the semester ended last year, in our last academic meeting you told me something I will never forget. You told me to fly. To push myself. To be fearless. To declare my might and embrace my strength. You told me to never hold back, to embody who I was, to be unapologetic about my position and occupy the small but worthy space I had earned as a advocate for justice. You told me to throw away the caution that was visible to you and Professor Reitz and Waterston. You told me to fly. And so I am.
Life is unfair. Life is unjust. But as I recounted to you in one of my emails, life can be incredibly right. It is strange to think of these two thoughts simultaneously. But life was right in placing you at John Jay with such an incredible array of strong and powerful warriors. Life was right in its workings to have you as a teacher and mentor. Life was right in helping you helping us fly. Right now, life doesn’t feel right, because you are no longer with us. But even now, I imagine you telling us to buckle down, put our heads up, be hopeful, and be ready for the fight ahead, all mashed up in your love and steadfast resolve. I, along with my brothers and sisters, are in pain and sadness. But someone once told me that such pain is only a sign that love in life was strong, and that it is a true blessing to have known such love. I’ll take it, knowing that you loved us and we loved you. Better said, you always loved us and we will forever love you.
Abby, we love you, and we will always miss you. I promise to keep your legacy alive. For me, that means making sure the Vera Fellowship exists until infinity finds it match.
Until we meet again. Wherever that may be.
With Love from the Skies,
Your student. Nico.