Beyond Human Comprehension: Reflecting on the Death of Marina Keegan

Jacklynn Blanchard is a recent graduate from University of Colorado Boulder. We’ve had the pleasure of working with Jacklynn as an outstanding intern and now a new hire at LifeBound. After hearing the tragic news of the new graduate Marina Keegan’s senseless death, she was inspired to reflect on her own feelings about graduation and life after college. 

The death of Marina Keegan, a recent graduate from Yale, resonated for me in a way that felt almost as if a bit of myself had also perished on that Cape Cod highway on Saturday afternoon, albeit an idealized self that has yet to come to fruition and perhaps never will. Still I felt, and continue to feel, this deep sense of sadness at the loss of such a young life on the cusp of something great. I couldn’t help but see the parallels between my aspirations for myself and what Marina had achieved. I had once dreamed of being an Ivy League graduate who would live in New York City and work for the New Yorker, and that was exactly what Marina was about to do. She was a recent Yale graduate who had graduated Magna Cum Laude, had been the President of the Yale College Democrats and a writer for the Yale Daily News, and had landed an editorial assistant job at the New Yorker and an apartment in Brooklyn that she would have moved into in June.

Marina Keegan was described as a “prolific writer, actress, and activist” by The Yale Daily News. While reading through Marina’s story I couldn’t help but feel like everything I had thought I would be, everything I had hoped I would be, was summarized in this story about a girl I had never met and that produced this unfamiliar sadness, not only for the loss of this stranger, but also for my own loss of the unrealized self. Perhaps, in reality, I feel this way because I have yet to accomplish what I had expected to by the time I was 23 and I feel as though my youth, and in turn, my life, is slipping away far too quickly for me to gather any meaning from it let alone commit it to print. But I can’t help but feel this sense of resonance in the death of this young girl who was on the cusp of a life I had wanted. In the end it is not jealousy I feel towards Marina Keegan but rather this deep sense of loss for what could have been and the wonderful body of work she would have undoubtedly created. I can’t help but take from this senseless death the only lesson one can derive from the passing of someone so young and bright: don’t waste your time on trite things when there is so little of it, try to experience each day as if you will never have another, as if it matters more than it probably does, as if you matter more than you feel like you do.

In my time of reverie of a future so uncertain, I can’t help but turn to Marina’s last piece for a bit of perspective: “What we have to remember is that we can still do anything. We can change our minds. We can start over. Get a post-bac or try writing for the first time. 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.”

Read Marina Keegan’s last essay she wrote for Yale Daily News addressing the Class of 2012, “Opposite of Loneliness”.

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