I struggle with some social anxiety; making and keeping friends seems impossibly difficult sometimes. There are people I consider very good friends that I haven’t spoken to in years, but am too anxious to strike up a conversation with at this point (sorry ya’ll). But with Rue, it was so easy. Becoming her friend and staying close was as easy as breathing. She was just so profoundly GOOD, it was hard not to become her friend.
Rue passed away on Monday, April 24th. The circumstances of her death were so preventable as to be farcical; she was let down by many of the institutions and protocols in place to help those who found themselves in the situation she did. It should never have been allowed to get as bad as it did or go on for so long. It feels farcical to even have to talk around the situation like this, but that’s the way of it right now. She was systematically let down and she died for it.
Her passing and the circumstances surrounding it have given me new purpose. In my mourning process, I’ve become stuck at “anger”. Not at Rue, but at the systems that let her slip through the cracks when she went to them for help. My anger is being channeled into changing those systems, so what happened to Rue is never allowed to happen again. Her reports should have been taken seriously the first time and the problem nipped in the bud immediately.
Rue was everything a university should strive to have in a student; extraordinarily intelligent, humble, passionate, with a unique and powerful perspective on what she studied. The university should have fought tooth and nail to do right by her- as they should everyone that makes up the student body, graduate and undergraduate alike.
She was also everything that one could hope to have in a best friend; loyal, kind, caring, an unmatched sense of humor, and great taste in food that she loved to share. Rue once told me that if she was your friend, she was “your friend as f*ck”. She was so willing to go the extra mile to spend time with her friends or help with whatever they were going through. She must have brought her signature spicy soup to nearly everyone in her year when we were sick, myself included. I can’t help but feel like if the situation was different, if we were mourning someone else, she would have brought each and every one of us soup and held us as we cried.
In friendship and in life, we were all truly blessed to have met her. I certainly was.