A year ago one of the best people I’ve known in my life died. A person who marched against American sponsored torture camps trained at the School of the Americas. Who spoke about her belief in justice for the downtrodden not just in the US but around the world. Who helped organize any number of events for groups from No More Deaths to Humane Borders to groups whose names I can no longer remember and went to Central America to help build houses with things like water bottles for people who were squatting on land.
After college we followed different roads. I continued to ride the fence, the fence between working with federal agencies that often were opposed to the kind of work we’d done, or more to the point that she’d done. Because I didn’t publically march against the School of the Americas because I did have those federal connections. I didn’t travel to Central America because I didn’t want to spend the money on it. I would happily stay out of sight, and on this side of the border, being supportive but not being “active”. Eventually my road brought me to Houston, and into city service away from the Feds (at least for now).
Her road led her to working with refugees from the war in Syria. We talked from time to time via Facebook, and I briefly entertained the idea of joining her in Turkey. They needed people to help with children, children who had seen their parents die, their siblings die, had their homes destroyed, and been driven from their homeland. Knowing myself I knew that was not work for me. My anger, my temper would not work in a setting like that.
Knowing that she was working on the edges of a war I didn’t think about it too much when she dropped off the map. There were far better ways to use the limited assets along the Syrian border then providing access to Facebook after all.
Then last February I saw a headline. A report that an American hostage had been killed in a Jordanian air raid against ISIS, no name released yet. My first thought was shit, that’s not good. My second thought was, “What is going on with Kayla anyway?” So I hopped over to Facebook to message her. I couldn’t find her in my friends list. Well, that happens, you grow apart and eventually someone deletes the other. Or they close their Facebook account. But then I searched my messages. All the messages between us were gone. THAT is hard to do. Facebook messages stay even after an account is deleted usually. You’d need the assistance of Facebook itself. And in that moment I knew.
In another tab I saw the story update. Her name was there Kayla, who I’d known for two years at Northern Arizona University, was dead. And I’d had no idea that she’d been captured.
Kayla was the person that I want to be deep inside. The person who puts their fears aside, and does what they see as right. I may never get to the point where I am that person, but it is what I strive towards.