It is a sad fact of life that young people die all the time. They die in car crashes, they die of diseases that strike too early and too hard. They die for no reason at all. That in and of itself is unfortunately not an uncommon truth.
Marina Keegan, 22, is one of those cruel casualties. A recent Yale graduate, Keegan was the epitome of promise. She was about to start a job as an editorial assistant at the New Yorker -- her dream job. She had blogged for the magazine during an internship last summer, and her heartbroken mother says she couldn't wait to move to New York and get started on her career. "She was just so excited she was going to start work there," Tracy Keegan said. "That's all she talked about."
On Saturday, Keegan and her boyfriend Michael Goksch were driving on a Massachusetts road, when he lost control of his Lexus and crashed. He survived. Keegan didn't.
Keegan was extremely active in the Yale community. She was the president of the Yale College Democrats, organized Occupy Wall Street protests for her school, and even reached out to those pursuing financial careers to encourage them to take responsibility for making the world a better place. Her loss sent waves through the community, and the Yale Daily News, to which Keegan regularly contributed, published one of her final pieces.
In the essay, titled "The Opposite of Loneliness," Keegan detailed her hopes for the future, and the time at Yale she so obviously cherished.
"We don't have a word for the opposite of loneliness," it begins. "But if we did, I could say that's what I want in life."
It reads with the same dubious, yet full-bodied enthusiasm of college graduates the world over. Keegan was right, or at least, she should have been right, when she said that life for her and her classmates was just beginning.
"What we have to remember is that we can still do anything. We can change our minds. We can start over," she wrote. "The notion that it's too late to do anything is comical. It's hilarious. We're graduating college. We're so young. We can't, we MUST not lose this sense of possibility because in the end, it's all we have."
Keegan's story has seemed to touch a nerve in online communities, far transcending the scope of other equally tragic and untimely young deaths. Perhaps it is because she was such a promising young writer. Perhaps it is because there is so much of her work that she left behind. Or, it could be the haunting and poignant words that trailed her passing.
A fund, called "The Artichoke Fund," has been set up in memory of Marina. The fund will "permanently endow a staff position at Yale University, dedicated to providing students with support in seeking truly fulfilling careers."