Last week I found out someone I have been friends with online for over 15 years took their life: @kayla-la
I knew she struggled with depression. I knew that she had a lot of trouble accepting the fact she was loved and inherently worthy. Through the years I tried to remind her of this when I’d read her journal. But I don’t think it was something she fully ever accepted.
Yet despite her struggles, she always was such a giving person. She gave of her time and energy to the online artist community. This community helped form who I am in many ways as a person. I spent an inordinate about of my time interacting with artists in the furry fandom though communities and connections she fostered, she facilitated, she moderated.
She was a brilliant artist herself. I just loved the way she created very sexy, enticing colorful images with all her characters and that of her friends. She made art exchange communities a priority for helping encourager her artistic output, and she made art for many people. One of my favorite pictures of my character Anjel will be the art she did for me back in 2009 called the Ring Leader of Anjel hooping perched over the city in the perfect gargoyle way I think about her being in my imagination.
I don’t ever recollect meeting Dani in person. I was going to at one point when I was in San Francisco on a school trip and she couldn’t get to the meet point in time before I had to go back to MS. Despite this, I still consider her a friend, and felt like I knew her in a way that I wouldn’t be able to pass off as some random furry I knew online passing away.
I will keenly miss her. I will miss seeing her art, miss reading her mod posts on Artist_Beware, miss seeing her interactions and read her thoughts. 10 years ago she was a daily part of my life, and while our interaction had lessened in recent years, I still and always count her as someone dear to me.
While I was visiting Triad in Phoenix this past week, we had the chance to go up to the Amitabha Stupa in Sedona, AZ. It is one of the only Tibetan Stupas in North America, and it is surrounded by the beautiful Sedona red rock landscape. I had been there several times before and it was always a place I find peace. Amitabha is the Buddha of Boundless Compassion. He resides in the Purelands, and he will only reach Nirvana once all sentient beings have reached enlightenment.
While there I prayed for Dani. I walked the stupa and meditated on her memory. I received a message then. That in order to practice compassion for others, we must first have compassion for ourselves, and learn to forgive ourselves. It is only when we practice compassion for ourselves, that we can be compassionate to all beings.
I hope that where ever you are now Dani, you know you are loved and missed. Your memory will live on in the art you created for the many people who shared yourself with. I will keep your memory and think of you with love, and hope you are now at peace.
Be at Peace Friend.