I wouldn't even be writing here right now if it wasn't for the untimely death of one of my very best friends, who was also a fierce disability advocate and ally to the Autistic & Disability communities:
You may have heard of her.
Maybe you interacted with her online.
Maybe you even had a face to face relationship with Sandy,
Maybe she was on your side.
Maybe she wasn't.
However you knew her, you knew she was fierce and devoted.
|Image via Autism Women's NetworkImage has a photo of a black girl blowing bubbles at left, with the AWN logo, and at right on a pink background, black text: "Autism acceptance means... 'Not changing what fundamentally makes my child who she is. It means respecting her stims, it means respecting her sensory needs,it means presuming that my child is as competent as the next. It means giving her the space and accommodations to succeed with her unique neurology.' - Sandy Kinnamon"|
Sandy's intenseness is what drew me to her. I like when I can feel how committed someone is to something. There was absolutely no mistaking Sandy was serious about autism acceptance and disability advocacy. I became official friends with her mid-late 2013. We clicked immediately.
Sandy and I grew very very close and although we never met face to face, we were best friends.
I don't have any messages left from her because all of them got deleted, but there are little reminders all over my Facebook... ones like this:
She was trust worthy.
She was loving.
Sandy was protective.
Sandy was my introduction to many of the activists I call my very close friends today. This is the same group of activists that jumped to action upon finding out about her disappearance (just some FYI : that was 3 days AFTER she disappeared). This particular group of friends are people I feel I am truly lucky to have in my life and that does include Sandy.
Sandy made sure you knew exactly how she felt about you. She was not afraid to tell you she loved you. She always knew exactly what to say and how to say it...
If I was upset and hating on someone or something, Sandy hated on it/them with me. She never tried to tell me I was wrong for the feelings I was having or that I was being unfair. She never played devil's advocate. She never told me to look on the bright side.
She stood with me through all of my storms.
Then, when I was ready to forgive someone or at least not hate them so much, she was right there with me too.
She was my person for a very long time.
She was, to me, much like Meredith was for Owen on Grey's Anatomy this past season.
Meredith: I made a promise to Cristina that I wouldn't let you go dark and twisty, that I'd be your person if you needed one.
Owen: I don't want to talk.
Meredith: Okay. You don't have to. But just tell me--Do we hate him?
Owen (through tears) : We hate him.
Meredith: Okay, then. We hate him.
Sandy told me to always trust my instinct, she said I have a good one. I was terrible about second guessing myself and still kind of am. But, I have really been actively practicing not dismissing myself.
That is part of the reason why when I heard of her disappearance I felt much of the way that my friend, Beth, feels too and I just can't dismiss that. You can read about that HERE.
I wish I knew what happened to my friend. I wish I knew what happened in her last moments. I can speculate, but that isn't giving me any answers.
I wish I could know for a fact that she wasn't hurting and lonely in her last moments, but I'm pretty sure she was.
I wish I knew:
But, I know I probably never will.