Remembering Rachel

I first met you at my first job, even though we came from the same university, you already graduated when I started so I didn’t get to know you there. 

You had a reputation that preceded you – genius, workaholic, great friend. My college professor told me to seek you out if I needed a mentor at work but we didn’t really talk much about work though, it was mostly about books, math, travel, algorithms, music, the state of the nation, and whatever new tech was percolating. 

In one of my Japan business trip assignments, I got to know some of your friends and you invited us to your cute loft apartment for a movie marathon. I remember you lent me this collection of Ally McBeal DVDs to catch up on your fave TV show back then, you also shared some of the music you listened to in mini discs while I shared some of my writings with you. 

When I resigned from my first job, you gave me this book called “the curious Incident of the dog in the night-time”, and you said I would like all the mention about prime numbers there. You always had a knack for finding novels with mathematical references like Yoko Ogawa’s “hakase o aishita suushiki”.

Even though we didn’t work at the same place anymore, we still found time to email and chat about the exciting world of machine learning and all the Coursera we planned to take, I actually feel like my IQ goes up 10 notches every time we have our talks. 

Before I left for Canada in 2015, you shared about your medical condition and how the doctor gave you 2 years, our conversation was lighthearted even though the topic was grave, you joked that you finally know the medical term for “my heart skips a beat”, and it didn’t sound very romantic. 

Today they told me you were gone, I hopped on a zoom call with your close friends and they shared their fond memories of you. I looked back at our last conversation just a couple of weeks ago, we were talking about cognitive tools, subjects they should teach in school and our MMC logo – a hypocycloid, the path traced by a point on the circumference of a circle that is rolling inside a bigger circle.

You’ve been a really good friend to all those who knew you and up to the very end you didn’t want to be defined by your illness, you chose instead to downplay it, quietly bear the pain, and be thankful for the extra years you’ve enjoyed. 

As I listened to all their stories about you, I realized how blessed I am to have known you, how you’ve enriched the lives of so many people and what a big hole you’ve left in the hearts of everyone who had the honor of knowing you. 

Mata aimashou, Reicheru. 


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