A Letter to Tam Tran. RIP

Someone told me to write a letter so this is my pathetic attempt at trying to conjure one up.

You are gone and I can’t even launch a campaign to bring you back. I am helping with the cause to get you posthumous citizenship though, which might infuriate you more. I am not quite sure. It just feels right.

You always promised to call back when I left a voicemail. But you didn’t call back this time.

I am angry. I fear my anger more than anything else. There’s this rage inside me threatening to explode every few hours and I am trying desperately to not do anyone any damage. That means I am turning my rage inwards and doing myself a lot of damage and destroying my own life. If you were around, you’d probably say that is very Asian of me and we’d laugh about it.

I am hurt. The people around me simply fail to understand precisely what I need. But maybe it is my fault since I’ve failed to articulate what I need or go looking for it in the wrong places.

I am heart-broken. I’ve never really lost anyone close to me. Even when I was brought here, I knew the people I left behind were still alive. But death is so final. And you were the last people that deserve it. I keep wishing that it was me instead of you that was taken from our beautiful community. Why doesn’t death come to those who don’t want to live?

We are told to remember the good times, the good lessons and let it move us forward. That pretty much involves every moment that I did get to spend with both of you whether it was in San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles or Washington DC.

I also regret the fact that I never pushed you harder to actually use your Twitter account! No, you would actually rather live life.

Every moment we got to spend together was special. After all, we had a mutual admiration society. You were fascinated with everything I could do online while I looked up to you like any other starry-eyed kid. I’ll always be thankful for the entire weekend in San Francisco and the one night we got to spend in New York talking till the wee hours of the morning about anything and everything. I looked forward to joining you in academia, making the rounds at all those conferences where we didn’t seem to belong but something inside us propelled us to at least pay attention and hang around long enough to tolerate it.

In fact, I secretly enjoyed the idea of having a whole niche of former DREAM kids in academia, even though my academic interests have little to do with immigration policy. And we were supposed to write a book together, remember? All we have on our name is this one paper: Undocumented and Undaunted.

That would describe you quite aptly, leaving out the reserved part. We had quite a lot in common. People don’t realize how shy and reserved I am as a person–I just end up coming across as arrogant. We were thrust into the limelight as activists and were always reluctant to live up to some expectation of us that others had. But we did our best at trying to represent even as our hearts pulled us in other directions. We also did our best to live life and not let any obstacles affect our choices. I was actually putting my life back together after a decade of not living, complete with a job and girlfriend before this tragedy came out of nowhere blowing the facade away.

I am still struggling with making sense of life these past few years. You loved DreamActivist right down to the name while I’ve never gotten used to the fact that it might be seen as my biggest achievement. After all, it’s ironic and feels like a fluke at times–I don’t even want to live here! Quite often, I run from the movement and everything that is American, telling myself that this is not where I am supposed to be and not what I am supposed to do with my life. I run from the people who love and appreciate me the most, pushing them all away. And it wasn’t till I was getting ready to leave for Canada that I started to live and love again. I realized how deeply I had grown to like and appreciate things around me. It took a moment to sink in and I hated myself for it. At the same time, I realized that no matter how hard I try to erase it, I am an American.

The last thing you said to me was to go to George Washington Law school because between Canada and GW, the latter was closer to you and it meant I would hang around. I had made up my mind to come to DC. Now I don’t know. It happens to be the place where I first and last met you.

All I know at this moment in time is that even though you cannot reply, you will guide me as I continue my search for answers to questions I have long forgotten.

Love, Prerna.

P.S. You have my precious L Word Season 1 DVD set!

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