I remember meeting you for the first time at the Bitter bar. You were standing at the bar with James Lee and a group of your friends, booming and laughing together. You were obstructing the aisle, and I kept squeezing past you more frequently than was necessary (“Oh, don’t mind me, I’ll just slide past you here.”). At some point, you smiled warmly, if not suspiciously, and stopped me to introduce yourself (you must have found my shameless lack of finesse and feigned innocence endearing). I don’t remember much of the content of that first conversation, but I remember being impressed and seduced by how big you seemed in body and personality. I was so comfortable with you right off the bat, and after our first hug that night I couldn’t stop thinking about wanting to be in your expansive embrace (now too, and more than ever). I was smitten...
I was immediately attracted to your bouncy enthusiasm and bright lopsided perfect smile. I admired your ability to lead with grace and set the mood of the room with your effortless warmth that you shared with everyone you encountered. You would introduce me two and three times to all of your friends (“do you know my friend Mel, she is incredible!” “Taige, I work with Mel, and yes she’s incredible.”) because it was so important to you that the people you loved all loved each other too. I came to respect your strength, your honesty, and the constancy of your moral compass. And I especially relished the times that you shared your sadness and distress with me, because (and I loved this about you) you were so filled with an indelible optimism that only very infrequently would allow for an authentic expression of sadness. I miss your affection. I want to lavish hugs and kisses on you. I am honored and grateful that you were so vulnerable with me. I wish circumstances had been different, and that I had been better for you.
Taige, I have never met someone so generous with his love and warmth as you. I will do all I can to learn from your tremendous example.
Thank you. I love you. And I will miss you for the rest of my days.