First, I wish comfort to all those who are grieving Chandra. I wish there was something I could do or say, but Chandra’s loss leaves a profound hole in our lives.
This news has broken my heart. When we were three years old, Chandra was my first, best friend ever, and I fell in love with her the moment we met. We both lived in this ordinary, middle class neighborhood on the edge of Houston. The day we met she was wearing different colored socks and riding in a stroller. Here was someone who did things her own way and owned it. She was like no one I had ever met and remains so today.
I’m certain that she shaped my life and that much of the parts of my life that are good are the parts Chandra touched.
We played together every day. Her mom was a psychologist, and she bought Chandra a Free to Be You and Me Record that we listened to over and over. I begged for one too. Whatever society may have told us – when we danced and sang and listened to the stories in that record together – we were free to carve our paths, and Chandra did.
Chandra had a boy doll named Harvey, and one day we accidentally threw him over the fence into the neighboring apartment complex. The mission to find Harvey will always stick out in my memory.
Her dad had what seemed like an enormous Buddha statue in a room we called the Buddha Room. Her mom told us that we weren’t allowed in the Buddha Room. So of course, when no one was looking, we would run through it screaming, “Don’t go in the Buddha Room or the Buddha will Buddha you!”
Chandra was so smart. I was in awe of her. She knew how to draw stars when we were only four. After moving, I visited when we were five, and she already knew how to multiply and divide.
When I was five, my family moved to the country to rural Texas, in the most opposite possible cultural climate. I grieved the loss of her for over a year when we moved. I begged to go see her, but after a few years, we lost touch. This era was pre-Internet. So we lost that connection for decades.
In my late thirties, I discovered how to find people on the Internet. I spent decades missing my friend, and I wanted to find her. Right around that same time, I had left my litigation career to get an additional degree, an MFA, and was seeking professor positions. I looked up Chandra – she was a law professor!!! Two little girls from a regular middle class neighborhood parted ways when they were around seven, yet both became law professors.
I visited her in London when I was there for a conference, and we have written each other. We may have both been a little guarded at first, but we soon came to find how we were on the same wavelength in our thoughts regarding the legal academy as a whole. We had become an occasional but important support for each other during turbulent times in our world.
I know she was exploring leaving the U.K. on a fellowship. We had talked about getting together this summer when I am in Europe.
I wrote to her a few days ago because my summer plans in the EU had become more clear and because I wanted to share some Dr. Ford/Kavanaugh Op Eds I’d published. I expected we’d have another of our interesting and validating dialogues. She almost always writes back within twenty-four hours and that begins a short series of long emails back and forth.
I was troubled that she hadn’t written. Since it seemed unusual, I wondered if perhaps her address had changed. So I ran a quick search. My heart sank when I saw this news.
Yet I was comforted to see this tribute to Chandra. I learned things that we had not yet discussed – it turns out that we still have so many of the same loves, including Buffy.
She had such a promising future ahead of her still. It breaks my heart that the odds cut her future short. The world needs Chandra as we face increasing Human Rights threats. We lost one of our best.
I hope to hear from Carolyn – I’m unsure whether she remembers me. If possible, it also would mean a lot to me to remember Chandra with some of her friends this summer when I am in the EU. Please reach out if you can. Again, I’m sorry for everyone’s loss.
Cathren Page (Cathy Oxner from Holly Springs Street)
P.S. It would mean the world to me to remember Chandra with others, either via exchanging messages or in person. It would mean a lot to me to offer empathy and support to others. Since we were childhood friends, we had no mutual friends despite having taken similar life paths. I met some lovely people at her party in London but did not keep in touch.
I’m going to be in Europe this summer and perhaps we could meet in person. You can email me at work at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m happy to provide additional contact information upon receiving email messages.