gold_flamingo (gold_flamingo) wrote,

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April is the cruelest month

I’d been meaning to write something a bit ironic about futile attempts to go dancing in the wilds of Los Angeles and some recent upheaval at work.  But that doesn’t seem so pressing right now.

I was seven years old when I made friends with Rebecca Rainof, and by extension her younger sister Mila.  The two of them were sisters in the way of characters in the nicer books: companions and compatriots in the struggle with the adult world, their smiling faces similar but completely distinct, sharing everything from bedrooms to friendships to the petty spats that began with tears and ended with no one quite remembering what had been so important in the first place.  As a little sister myself, I had a natural sympathy for Mila, a self-contained, stubborn, good-humored girl who was occasionally over-shadowed but seldom out-done by her more extroverted sister.  It went without saying that the two of them came as a pair, on after-school get togethers and birthday parties and excursions through the neighborhood on scooters or rollerblades.  Mila was two grades behind us, and Rebecca and I would wait rather impatiently for her to join us in middle school and then high school – it never made sense that such a patently bright and competent girl was stuck in a lower grade while the underachieving boys pretending to beat each other up in the back of our classrooms moved along with us each year.  She joined Rebecca at Stanford, and then struck out on her own as a medical student at Yale.  And then, weekend before last, scant weeks from graduation, Mila was killed by a car as she dashed across a busy street.  In recent years, I caught only the occasional glimpse of her as she matured from an impressively level-headed teenager to a happy, successful young woman, but whenever I saw her she’d be smiling, rushing from one thing to the next, but never too busy to stop for just a moment and catch up with her sister’s old friend.  Now she has hurried ahead of us all, and we can do nothing but wonder at the sudden, senseless loss of her light.  She was naturally beloved to everyone who spent time with her, her unstinting warmth and unflinching strength of character making her presence a rare pleasure, and we are all worse off for the lack of her.  She remains indelible and irreplaceable in the hearts of her sister and parents, her friends and teachers.  I’m no one much in all this – just a girl who hung around on the outskirts of her childhood – but tonight I light a candle for Mila Noelle Rainof, who came as close as anyone can to walking through this world without casting a shadow.  We wish she could have stayed a little longer.

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