Dear Niki

I never got the chance to meet you and say it, but you were and still are one of the most steadfast examples I follow.

When I began questioning abortion, your cogent and precise views began my journey to being unapologetic, entirely confident, in pro-choice views. You stared into the eyes of the violent, the indoctrinated, and worked for women trying to escape from under the oppressive thumb of the many misogynistic entities working in tandem. Even with all your difficulties, what you gave as 100% of your effort far exceeded that of most folks, and for that I am ever pushing myself to follow in your example.

You were among the brightest voices in Black Lives Matter. Back in 2014, when I was still just starting to wrap my head around the extent of institutionalized racism in the United States, you were among the many vanguard writers, advocates, and activists who taught me first to listen as a white person. If not for you, I might count myself among the ignorant and the hateful. There are no thanks deep enough for that. I try to live out your legacy with the local BLM chapter by pulling aside and coaxing disruptive white people into understanding, and I hope this honours your memory.

We had a fair bit in common when it came to complex relationships with our body. I shake with rage knowing now the way the disability system in the United States is patchwork, antagonistic to disabled folks, as if the able-bodied could possibly read a graph and decide whose pain is real and whose is not. And I wish we had more time to talk about that, to talk about reform, to paint a metaphorical target and set our sights for something.

Alas, circumstances being what they are, we are robbed of that time.

I could write for tens of thousands of words describing gratitude for each and every thing you taught me, made me rethink or consider, made me laugh. And in some ways I intend to do just that, to continue in the capacities in which you have helped to empower me.

We never met, and now we never will. But I will always see your fingerprint in the foundation of my ethics, and your work will never be forgotten as long as I live.