Thursday, May 04, 2006
jenny chia-jen chang
i have been dreading this post. i knew it was coming, but there is never enough time, is there?
i met jenny chang in the spring of 2001, when i lived in a ramshackled row house in dc on jenifer street with a bunch of truman scholars. she moved in after my friend lk moved out, and i liked my new housemate: funny, smart, cute and a wiseass. she loved buying shoes and i will never forget her laugh.
jenny died of metastatic breast cancer on saturday; she was 28, and had been battling - really fighting - for four years. she and her husband, dom, got married in raleigh last memorial day. i was able to go to her bachelorette party in orlando last january (only for jenny, i swear to god, would i go to a bachelorette party in orlando) and met more of her (unsurprisingly) awesome, smart, hilarious friends, and i was able to go to her wedding. since i had used frequent flier miles to get my ticket to raleigh, i couldn't leave until tuesday, and everyone left town monday to get back to their respective homes, including dom. i was able to spend all of monday with her, the day after her wedding, just the two of us, driving around raleigh in her mercedes convertible (a present to herself), going to a movie (will ferrell's kicking and screaming, since she wasn't really into depressing dramas), and, of course, shoe shopping. i consider myself really blessed to be able to spend this time with her.
the last time i saw her was in october, when i was in town and spent an afternoon with her - getting brunch, driving in her rad car, going to the rowhouse on capitol hill that she and dom had purchased, playing with honey, her new puppy. when it was time for me to leave she drove me to union station. i remember that she didn't just drop me off and drove away; she sat in the car and watched me walk up into the station, going to the metro. i turned around and she was still sitting there, watching me. this was the last time we saw one another. we had plans for me to come over to the house on wednesday - i am so fucking mad at myself for deleting the voicemail she had left me early last week, letting me know that she was looking forward to it, and while her voice was shallow and breathy, and she warned me that she didn't leave the house much these days, i didn't expect her to leave us so soon. i heard on sunday morning, and i was so stunned. she had been admitted to a dc hospice on saturday and died five hours later. for what it's worth, i'm glad that i was in dc when it happened. i got to see some of her friends that i met at the bachelorette party that i honestly feel are my friends now, too, and i went to her house wednesday as planned, to talk to dom, play with honey, and try to make sense of what never does.
here is a website that was originally put together for our breast cancer walk team, the chang gang, and now serves as a memorial site. here is the really gorgeous website jenny's friend kelly put together for the wedding.
as random, and as unfair, and sometimes as ugly as life can be, jenny - and all of the jennys of the world - leave us with a reminder of what it means to be alive, and to love all of it, even when it sucks. jenny was a no-bullshit kind of girl, and i know that she was so thankful for her family and friends, and when it comes down to it, that's all that matters anyway. i am honored to have known someone so strong, and she is already greatly missed.