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Remarks by William R. Brody
President, The Johns Hopkins University

Linda Trinh Memorial Service
February 2, 2005

[Prepared text; not checked against delivery.]

I would like to begin, if we could this morning, with a minute of silent remembrance.

[After a minute of silence]

"Do not act as if you had ten thousand years to throw away. Death stands at your elbow. Be good for something, while you live and it is in your power."

The Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius wrote those words as he struggled at a task beyond his abilities. This morning, nearly two thousand years later, their awful truth is like a hammerblow to our hearts, as we confront our own terrible task. How can we make sense of, and how can we accept, that which is, but should not be?

Linda Trinh — whose humor and joy, whose optimism and promise for the future is so evident all around us — was ripped untimely from this life. She was stolen from a brother who doted on her, from parents who wore her many achievements like medals upon their chests. She was taken from her friends and from her sorority sisters who delighted in her company, from her professors and her mentors who triumphed in the dazzling possibilities before her. She was abducted from us all.

Yet this assembly makes clear, if ever anyone made good of her time allotted, it was Linda. So many friends, so many achievements, so much to show in scarcely two decades' time. Linda was a loving daughter, a supportive sister, a good friend and engaging pupil. These are the qualities by which she is remembered. This is the Linda we have come to celebrate today.

We will begin with an opening prayer from Father Thomas Ryan, and a reading of sacred text and the singing of a hymn chosen in recognition of Linda's deep and abiding faith. In celebration of Linda's life, we will hear from her friends and sorority sisters, and from any of you who would care to stand before us and talk about Linda. We will close with words from our chaplain, Sharon Kugler.

Four centuries ago, William Shakespeare lost a child, a son who was 11 years old. Like countless parents before and after him, he understood that there are some pains so great they become manifestly physical, a presence that becomes part of us, for all the days of our lives. He wrote:

Grief fills the room of my absent child,
Lies in his bed, walks up and down with me,
Puts on his pretty looks, repeats his words,
Remembers me of all his gracious parts
Stuffs out his vacant garments with his form;
Then have I reason to be fond of grief?

(King John, III, iv)

Today, here at Johns Hopkins, grief has us by the shoulders. It walks with us arm in arm. We would all wish to be free of grief, but to do so we would have to stop remembering Linda. And that we will not do. We will never be fond of this grief, but we will learn to accept it. In doing so, each of us in our own small way, lights a flame of enduring love in Linda's memory.


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