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Every few years, a book or story or person comes along that profoundly impacts your life. I first came across Marina Keegan when her final article for the Yale Daily News, “The Opposite of Loneliness,” went viral following her death. Five days after her graduation from Yale, she was killed in a car accident. There were no drugs or alcohol or electronics involved. Instead, her boyfriend fell asleep at the wheel on the way to her father’s birthday party on Cape Cod. The day after her death, her parents embraced her boyfriend and begged that no charges be brought upon him. The only thing her parents wanted him to do was live his life to the fullest to honor Marina.
The article is amazing and touching. It makes you reevaluate your life, your goals, and your ambitions. It makes you think. And that is what makes a good piece of literature. After her death, her writing professors, friends, and family decided to compile a book of her writings. I was so touched by her single article that I knew I needed to buy the book. Within the first chapter, I was laughing and crying. By the end of the weekend, I finished the book and was left wanting more. There is just something so infectious about her writing.
Besides “The Opposite of Loneliness,” my favorite fictional stories were “Cold Pastoral” and “Winter Break.” My favorite nonfiction story, “Song for the Special,” reflected on death and the memories that follow someone’s death. It was eerie reading her thoughts on death, especially knowing that she had died so prematurely.
I’ve talked to my parents before but to me, one of the saddest parts of death is all the ideas and thoughts that are lost. All the inventions and theories that no one will ever know. What makes the death of Marina particularly sad is knowing how much potential and how much life she had in front of her. She had a job at The New Yorker and a play being produced for an international festival. She had such promise in life and we will never see it go beyond this book.
Go buy the book, The Opposite of Loneliness. It will make you a better person. You’ll laugh and cry and reflect on your own life.
In Marina’s poem, “Bygones,” she writes, “I want enough time to be in love with everything…And I cry because everything is so beautiful and so short.” Indeed, life is so so short. We must make it meaningful.