Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Chris Waddling Remembers Zelda

David, you have been a godsend to Zelda throughout these past 14 years. You have always had Zelda's best interests at heart, not to mention in thought, word, and deed. It was a combination of your relentless dedication and her own will to squeeze every last ounce out of the life she'd been given that kept her going.

Often, when a friend whose life was so full and well-lived passes away, like all of you, I feel a deep sense of sadness at the loss. But alongside that sadness, I feel a sense of joy when thinking of the life lived and the legacy that that person leaves behind them. Zelda will live on through us all, and we must take her life's message of friendship, love, activism, hard work, laughter, and never-say-quit to heart. We must live our lives to their fullest, and on our own terms. Be true to ourselves. Open our hearts to the people around us. Remember birthdays. Call someone we haven't talked to in a while and tell them we love them. Zelda has profoundly influenced all our lives, and for many, radically course-corrected them.

I met Zelda nearly 16 years ago to the day, sitting in Kahala Mall (Hawaii) just days after the Northridge earthquake. She was battered and bruised by the quake, arm in a sling, and certainly not looking like someone who wanted to chit chat. Yet as I, the geeky science student from small-town Canada sat down next to her, she did chat me up, eventually inviting me to dinner at Keo's with her friends. That chance meeting was not uncommon for Zelda, as I know she met many of her dearest friends in similarly unglamorous ways.

The last time I saw Zelda, I had the honor of escorting her to the Tater's 50th anniversary party in San Jose. She was physically uncomfortable, but didn't complain, insisting on flying up for the party. We had a great evening, enjoying the event, the food, the company, and the fun music, and staying much later than either of us thought we would.

My last chance to visit with Zelda was Oct 18, but no sooner had we confirmed Dim Sum than she called back to cancel, saying that Mayor Villarigosa's office had just called and asked her to attend the start of the 25th annual AIDS walk. She was heartbroken, but I told her that only a request from the Mayor could keep me from seeing her that day, and we promised to visit with each other "next time." Somehow I feel like Zelda will find a way, even in death, to make next time happen. We all have experienced that spiritual connection to Zelda, and I just have this strange feeling that, on my birthday, I'm going to get a phone call and hear a far off, yet happy voice on the other end of the line chirping, "Hi, Honey!"

With all the love that Zelda has imbued us with, may we all go forward, better people for having known her.

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