I miss you so damn bad. I was running today listening to my MARI playlist on Spotify. Those songs are my guilty pleasure. They make me so emotional but I love them because I think of you. All those songs we use to bump at the house, or driving in your Nissan, or relaxing poolside somewhere exotic. The songs on that list also got me through those long hours of LA traffic when you were sick. I remember vividly being soaked in my own sweat because the AC didn't work in my car! I know I complained about it but hopefully not too much because I know it was nothing compared to how uncomfortable you were feeling.
I miss those drives up to visit you. I always felt so excited and nervous at the same time. I couldn't wait to be with you but sometimes I worried about what to say. I knew you were going through a physical, mental and emotional hell that I've never had to endure. I wanted to be there for you on all levels and say the perfect words to make you forget about the cancer. But truthfully I never knew what to say. I hope I said the right things.
I miss all our talks and jogs down the waterfront in Tacoma. Your birthday's in just a few weeks so you've been on my mind even more than usual. I can't believe you won't be here to celebrate with this year. It feels so weird Mar. I've been thinking about something special I can do in your honor. And today on my run it finally came to me. BOOM!
SUNFLOWERS! You LOVED sunflowers. I see them here in Taiwan and they remind me of you. I know you were a go big or go home kinda woman. So buying a few sunflowers in your honor isn't gonna cut it huh? I need...50! No wait...100!!! Yes that’s it! I will buy 100 sunflowers and give them away for you Mari.
I miss how when I visited you I would usually leave with some new items for my wardrobe. You were always sharing everything you had. That's why for your birthday this year I want to share sunflowers and your story with as many people as I can. In your honor. I will leave them in beautiful places I know you would love. Places that remind me of you. All the places I would take you to if you were still here.
I miss how brave and fearless you were. I want people to know your story Mar. Not the parts about how miserable it was for you at times. Seeing you get punched back down every time you stood up made me so angry. I still get angry thinking about it now. But you kept rising strong. I want people to hear about that. About your fearless fight for life. About how you didn't give up and still lived your life through all the bullshit. You are my hero Mari. I want others to be inspired to live their life to the fullest as you did everyday. So I have to share your story somehow with every sunflower I give away. The only problem is, I don’t exactly speak Chinese! But I can ask my friend Tracy to help me translate. She is awesome. You two would have gotten along great.
I miss walking across the street to watch movies at The Grove and bumming it on your couch watching that intense animal planet series you had. You loved movies. It makes total sense why you picked Hollywood as your stomping grounds. Maybe I can make this whole sunflower thing into a movie for you! I can take pictures and some videos of people with the sunflowers. I will call it... Project Mari! I think you'd like that. Speaking of watching movies on the couch, there's this random outdoor living room made of bricks I always jog by here that's pretty dope.
I miss our community painting sessions. I remember you loved to paint anything to do with hearts and love. You loved getting tattoos too. I know you don't remember but I tried to talk you out of getting that heart tattooed that I playfully drew on your wrist that night! It totally messed up the left-side only thing you had going on with your tattooes. Oops! There's a tunnel here in Taiwan that reminds me of you. For such a small woman, your heart was so huge Mar.
I miss our dance sessions. I'll never forget that epic New Years we spent on the tables poolside at the Hollywood Roosevelt hotel. Sometimes I wish I could go back to that exact moment. Here in Taiwan they dance at the park! It's fun to watch them dressed all fancy doing their thang at 8am. I wonder if they would like some sunflowers. I've never talked to them, but I think they would like to hear your story.
I miss splurging on anything chocolate with you. Remember that day in Beverly Hills when we shared a bottle of wine with brunch then topped it off with dessert at The Cheesecake Factory? YUM! The kids I teach here in Taiwan always bring cake to school on their birthdays. I can't tell you how many times I've sang the happy birthday song in the last few months. Dozens. I wonder if some of my students would like to be in Project Mari. They can sing you happy birthday!!
I remember I when I told you I was thinking of moving to Taiwan to teach English and you said, "sounds awful". Haha, you were more of a luxurious traveler (thanks to Bob). But I know you also loved adventure. I think deep down you just felt sad about me leaving. Or maybe jealous because that's when you were too sick to travel. You had to go to the hospital all the time for chemo and other stuff. I remember when you were finally ready to move back to your roots in Washington and be close to your mom. Your doctors in LA, the insurance companies, and everyone else said the move would be too complicating. It didn't matter anyways because that fucking cancer didn't let you live long enough to make the move home.
I don't think I told you this but I was also thinking about moving to LA then, to be close and help care for you. I remember Ryan and I had our first fight over that. I forgot to explain to him that I was only CONSIDERING moving to LA. I think he was just scared of losing me. Anyways, I want you to know that there's no way I would have left you and moved to Taiwan if you were still here Mari. Not if you were sick and feeling shitty. I hope you knew that. I loved you so much.
I remember the night you first met Ryan and you couldn't stop talking about how good he smelled lol. You were always a fierce but good judge of character. You either instantly adored someone after meeting them, or you deeply disliked them. You had no problem expressing how you felt about people. Ryan liked you too Mari. I think he will like my vision for Project Mari. I will definitely need his help to carry all the sunflowers!! I'm so grateful you got to meet Ryan before....before you...
I just wish we could have spent even more time together. Made even more memories. All of us. Maybe that's selfish because all the things we did, places we went, and memories we made were more epic than some people's entire lives! You and Nathan were my first real Cali family. I love you both so much.
You were always living life BIG so I have to make Project Mari BIG for you! I want to spread the sunflowers EVERYWHERE. The more I think about it the more ideas I get. You loved basketball so I have to find some ballers in Taiwan to share your story with. And there's also this park I love that has a turtle pond! They aren't as big as the turtles we swam with in Hawaii but you'd still approve. Speaking of turtles, I promise to see every Ninja Turtle movie that ever comes out because I know how much you loved them. Ohhh ya and there's this famous building here with 85-floors! I've never been inside but maybe if there's a way to go to the top I can take some sunflowers up there to hand out. You'd DEFINITELY like that! The closer I am to the sky and the clouds, the closer I feel to you now Mari.
I miss how you brought so many different people together. You just wanted everyone to have a good time. There's so many people I've met here in Taiwan that I want to share your story with. There's this guy we always get chicken fried rice from, and this woman I see everyday on my way to and from work. She works in the MRT (our subway) and is always cleaning but will stop to smile at me when I walk by. I think one of your sunflowers will brighten up her day. And maybe I can teach a yoga class to some friends here in your memory. I want to share you with the whole world.
I miss getting dressed up and ready to go out together. You were like my big sister Mari, always giving me fashion and makeup advice. I think of you every time I walk by a Mac makeup counter. I may just have to stop by and give the Taiwanese Mac girls some sunflowers for you!
I remember a few months after you passed away I went to visit Nathan at your place. He handed me a bag with carefully selected items of yours he knew I'd like to have. When I saw the box, I already knew exactly what it was. I had been anxiously awaiting this moment since I heard that I'd be given one. I carefully untied the soft black bag and the moment that I saw it and held it in my hands I burst into tears. It was you Mari. Well a part of you anyways. A stunning hand crafted colorful glass heart swirled with glitter around your ashes. I honestly didn't expect to get so emotional upon seeing it. I think I was crying and smiling at the same time because I know that's exactly how you'd want to be remembered. And now you get to travel the world with me!
I remember the last voicemails you ever left me. I would play them over and over again until one day my phone broke. But it doesn't matter because they are ingrained word for word in my mind. One voicemail you left started with, "OooOoo Meggy-Poo... I LOVE youuuuu!" and then there was a long pause and you said, "GO Lebron....James!" Hahaha I can still hear your voice now, and by the way no one has thought of a better nick name for me yet than Meggy-Poo. Damn I miss you. I'm not gonna lie, your birthday weekend when I do Project Mari is gonna be tough emotionally. I just hope I can hold it together long enough to make Project Mari come to life. If I'm going to finish this video I need your super Ninja-Turtle strength.
I'll never forget when we met Paul Walker and got that picture. We were so giddy the entire plane ride. Then you chased him down in the airport yelling, "Paul!" and he stopped to take a picture with us. So star struck! Maybe I can put that picture into your movie. Yes I definitely need to add in some pictures of your beautiful smile Mar. I want Project Mari to move people. I want them to see what a beautiful soul the world lost.
I remember just 5-months before you left, I proudly stood next to you in the most enchanting day of my life. And it wasn't being in a mansion atop a mountain in the Virgin Islands as you married your prince charming that was so magical. Although DAMN that was pimp girl! Actually the real magic for me was seeing you walk down the isle. A walk of triumph. because I know how hard you fought to experience that single moment. Just a few weeks earlier you couldn't walk at all. No one should ever have to go through the kind of physical and emotional pain that cancer inflicts. Speaking of your wedding in paradise, there's a beautiful beach here in Taiwan you would absolutely love Mari! I dunno how I will have time to go to all these places for your birthday. But I will do my best to make it happen for you.
I want you to know that even though I miss you everyday, I am so grateful and honored I got to know you Mari. I'm grateful I got to love you. I'm grateful for every single memory, every single picture, and every single thing you have taught me. Even when your entire life got turned upside down you still lived boldly. You still found a way to laugh. You still found a way to take epic trips and have adventures. So I'm going to spend your birthday celebrating and living my life for you Mari. That's how you would want it. That's what you'd be doing if you were still here today. Living... learning... and loving.
With more love than I can ever put into words,
In Memory of Mari