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We want to offer our heartfelt gratitude to everyone who responded to “The Opposite of Loneliness”; you cannot imagine how beautiful it was to learn that Marina’s words inspired countless people around the globe. We have read so many stories of inspiration, like the returning vet who now plans to pursue a medical degree; the sixty-five-year-old who realized it was ‘not too late’ to run for political office, and the Wall Street executive who left his job to work for a non-profit. The thought that, at this very moment, someone could be reading our daughter’s words, her beliefs, her concerns, and be inspired to make this world a better place is amazing and humbling. Marina would have been so honored. She would also want us to spend time not on accolades, but rather on action. It is through your actions that Marina’s spirit lives on.

In her sophomore year at college, one of Marina’s friends asked her what she thought about the meaning of life. Marina answered in one word, love. Marina went on to say that she planned to live for love:

 “What happens after or beyond this life is impossible to know, so I will focus my energies and love towards this life and the human race which inhabits it.”

While we can never hold our daughter in our arms again, we will hold tight to her vision of a world where each one of us makes a difference through the energy of our love.

We would be honored and humbled if you would join us on the journey.

Kevin & Tracy Keegan

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We are grateful to and want to extend our gratitude to Gabrielle Landry of Medfield, MA for her reflective and inspirational letter on The Opposite of Loneliness.

Published on June 12, 2017

On May 16, 2017, Gabrielle was invited to the Massachusetts State House to be honored for a letter she wrote for the 2017 Letters About Literature competition about Marina Keegan’s The Opposite of Loneliness. The award ceremony, which was delivered by Massachusetts State Senator Richard Ross, honored the top 10 students out of 50,000 submissions. According to the competition guidelines, students are to reflect on how an author’s work changed them or their view of the world and how and why they are different now than they were before they read this work. We invite you to take the time to read Gabrielle’s response to The Opposite of Loneliness below.

 

Dear Marina,

Your words took my breath away. How did you articulate, so clearly and with so much insight, the name of the feeling that remained mysterious for so long in my life? Your essay “The Opposite of Loneliness” ingrained itself in my mind for days, weeks, months after I first read it. I reread the opening lines three times, letting the beauty and truth of the words sink in. “We don’t have a word for the opposite of loneliness,” you wrote. “But if we did, I could say that’s what I want in life.”

The first time I remember pinpointing the feeling was back in eighth grade. I was at Christmas Choir rehearsal, standing with the other eighth graders on the top step of metal bleachers. Our voices vibrated off the high ceilings and filtered through the stained-glass windows of the church. Green music folders in hand, we began singing “Somewhere In My Memory.” As the first notes swelled, the feeling washed over me. I felt it so strongly as the piano perfectly blended with our voices that I nearly stopped singing. I wasn’t sure what to call it. It felt like the feelings of Christmas: warmth, love, community, togetherness. But not quite any one of those.

I’m sure I felt that nameless emotion again over the next few months and years, but not as strongly—just flare-ups every now and then. A moment shared with my little siblings, Jack and Danielle, as we cocoon ourselves in blankets on the couch to watch some movie or show; their unstoppable giggles and smiling faces that light up the room call the feeling back out—if only for a moment. Or at family dinners when everyone’s home, and all ten kids and my parents gather around our two black, rectangular tables in the dining room to share a meal together. The chaos of dinner ensues as we shout for the bread or the salt and connect in lively conversation; yet, amidst the flurry of activity, there is an underlying calm: my mom’s soft smile, the pause for grace before eating, all twelve of us in our seats. The feeling emerges again, unexpected and warm: a sense of security, peace, and belonging.

You understood this feeling, Marina. You captured it, gave it a name, and revealed it for the world to see. You unmasked that mystery which had drifted within and around me since it first filled me at that rehearsal. The “opposite of loneliness.” I’ll never see those beautiful moments in the same way again.

Your words infused new life into my own writing. Your other nonfiction works in The Opposite of Loneliness showed me the forms of writing I love, but better. Better narrative. Better journalism. Better description, word choice, voice. “Stability in Motion” showed me how to take an object (like a car , as you did) and make it an expression of myself—simply reading this essay was a better lesson in personification than any English class example.

You infused hope and inspiration into your words, which, in turn, filled me with inspiration and hope. Your words take ordinary people and reveal their extraordinary stories, exposing the beauty of humanity for the world to see. I dove into your story, enchanted as you took Tommy Hart, a lighthearted and hardworking exterminator, and revealed that social stereotypes are just that: stereotypes. That piece, “I Kill For Money,” reminded me to look beyond the surface whenever I meet someone new.

In their dedication, your parents reminded me of your life philosophy: “Our hope is that Marina’s message of love will inspire readers to imagine the possibilities and make a difference in the world.”

Believe me—it certainly did.

Through your writing, I got to know you, Marina—the you you showed the world in your short 22 years on this planet—and in the process, I got to know myself. I finished The Opposite of Loneliness and picked up a pen and my journal. I started writing almost daily, and I haven’t stopped.

Thank you, Marina, for giving me the hope, inspiration, and determination to become the writer I one day hope to be.

Gabrielle Landry

 

Please take a moment to read Jesse Terry’s story that he has graciously shared with us and how Marina Keegan impacted his life.

Published on Dec 14, 2012

My wife often sends me blogs and compelling stories that she comes across during her day. Marina Keegan’s piece for the Yale Daily News “The Opposite of Loneliness” simply stopped me in my tracks. Marina’s writing was so extraordinary and inspiring; it instantly made an impact on my life. I couldn’t believe that this brilliant person was gone. I felt myself mourning the loss of someone that I’d never met.

This line of the piece had the largest effect on me: “We’re so young. We can’t, we MUST not lose this sense of possibility because in the end, it’s all we have.”

It reminded me that the best years of my life are not behind me… They are in the present. Right here, right now. This fragile life is what we make of it and we must embrace that gift. That is what I personally took away from Marina’s story. I’m not usually one to take things for granted but I hold my wife a little tighter now. Life feels a bit sweeter because of Marina’s honest words. 

It’s always a tragedy when someone so talented leaves this world at such a young age. But I know that her writing has had such a profound effect on so many people. It has changed lives. And as a writer or artist, isn’t that the greatest success you could ever hope for?

If you haven’t had a chance to read “The Opposite of Loneliness” please do here:

 http://yaledailynews.com/crosscampus/…

This song is inspired by Marina and dedicated to her memory. 

sincerely, Jesse

Marina by Jesse Terry

LYRICS:

Half a mural on her wall
Swirling sunsets, metallic stars
And she gets home late, just another night
Words stream out above streetlights
I picture her far-off stare
She could have gone anywhere
Instead she’s bouncing off all the satellites
Some things never will die
Marina
Oh my the song comes slow
For a face I did not know
For some words now etched in stone and in my mind
Oh my I must confess
I hate to see the light like this
The opposite of loneliness is where I am
Oh Marina, why’d you have to go
Why’d you have to go
Amber hair in a photograph
She’s trying hard not to laugh
I woke up today feeling so damn young
Free to go where the muse may run
Marina
Oh my the song comes slow
For a face I did not know
For some words now etched in stone and in my mind
Oh my I must confess
I hate to see the light like this
The opposite of loneliness is where I am
Oh Marina
Thanks for passing through my friend
I swear I’ll always look ahead
It’s all that matters in the end
Oh my the song comes slow
For a face I did not know
For some words now etched in stone and in my mind
Oh my I must confess
I hate to see the light like this
The opposite of loneliness is where I am
Oh Marina, why’d you have to go
Why’d you have to go
Jesse Terry — Jackson Beach Music (SESAC) 2012 
http://www.jesseterrymusic.com/