This is the most difficult thing I’ve ever written, but my little sister, Khayla Rose Choi, passed away yesterday afternoon at the age of 13. She was involved in a horrific car accident with my Mom and Aaron’s girlfriend Christina. They were driving the Corolla on a two-lane road when some idiot in a Tundra slid into opposing traffic for an unknown reason and hit the Corolla head-on at 55mph.
Peni has been heavily injured with broken arms and legs and a fractured hip. She is conscious and talking, and will be undergoing surgery shortly. Christina is in critical care, and her family is with her. Her wounds are very severe and it is not clear whether or not she will make it. My brothers are en route from India to be with them right now.
Dearest Khayla, you were the light of our life.
On the afternoon you passed, I was in Rancho Palos Verdes City Hall, working with our goats. But I was not really there. I was somewhere far away. I had been told that there was a serious accident, but we did not know anything for certain yet.
I felt a strong presence surrounding me. It was a very specific type of feeling, one I’ve only experienced once or twice in my life. At first I didn’t understand, but then I sat down and just listened. I let the energies of the universe flow through me, just trying to see if I could reach out beyond myself and send my energies towards you, Mom, and Christina to help with your recovery. I did not know what had happened to you, not yet. But I knew there was some force trying to communicate with me. I have always had an extrasensory perception about these things, ever since I was a child.
I sat down on the grass stunned, almost catatonic. Filled with worry and terror. And that intangible something got a hold of me, and embraced me, and I was no longer afraid.
I could feel you in the air. I saw your sweet smile in the fading light of the sunset. Felt your laughter in the cool breeze. Your gentle touch from the windswept grass beneath me was comforting. I did not hear your voice, but your presence was unmistakable. Most importantly of all, I knew that you were at peace. And that you wanted us to know you were okay. You had gone to the next life, hopped an early train to the next dimension. Transcended the holographic universe. Where you had gone was not clear. What was clear was that you had accepted it, and that you wanted us to be strong. The feeling I got was that God just needed one of His angels back.
Of course, I did not know it was you at first. I couldn’t let myself believe that you could be gone. But you persisted, and you granted me the strength that I needed. When I arrived with no sleep after a 22+ hour day at the Fresno Hospital and stood by Mom’s bedside to comfort her, all that strength did not come from me alone. You were there, too. Standing beside Dad and Grandma and Tita Marisse, just out of my peripheral vision.
A skeptic might think that maybe this is just what I have to tell myself. Some sort of rationalization for such a violent end to a young life. But get this: I am an agnostic who trusts only experiential certainty. And I could not hide from this feeling. It was so strong that I have no doubts that it was you. Whatever words I may try to spin simply cannot do justice to your presence.
I always feared what might happen if one of the family was lost. I can’t believe God took you. You were so young and had so much to live for. The only explanation is that you were needed elsewhere. That your spirit needed to be reborn immediately in order to save humanity or something. I don’t know. No one does but you and God.
This is what I do know. You were an angel. A fair mediator. And an artistic genius. Everyone loved you with all their hearts and were so proud of you. You were the center of our family. You brought the Baba communities together. Created bridges between families. Words just cannot express the sorrow I feel right now. The world has lost such a bright young angel far too early.
I wish that He had taken me instead. But because He didn’t, I will live on for you, Khayla. I love you so much. No matter what, I need to keep your memory and your spirit alive in me. The last times I saw you, you were smiling and happy. And I was happy, too. We talked about anime and your artistic projects. I will never forget the peace you had in your eyes as you gazed over the fields in Meherana before we loaded up the goats. How you sparkled whenever you learned something new about the world. How you laughed and thanked me when we first watched Ouran High School Host Club. Or how much you love dried squid. I won’t forget how you cried after we finished the last shot of KLA Travels Through Time. All that student loan debt was worth it just for you to have your moment in the audience.
There is so much I wish I could have taught you, could have told you. So many years stolen. There are many regrets I have, too. Getting upset or down in front of you, for one. But overall I hope that I was a good brother to you and that some of that love will carry on over to your next life.
Khayla, I don’t know if you can hear me or read what I am saying, but if what the Lotus Sutra says is correct and the Buddha has already finished the complete God-realization of all sentient beings, then I can only hope that you have already become One with the Universe and can grasp the feelings that I’m trying to express here.
It’s weird, but when Dad told me the news, as devastated as I was, it was as if you, in your love and foresight, had already mentally prepared me for it. It was as if a portion of your Divine energy, freed from your tiny body, spread throughout Creation and focused on calming me, getting me to be strong for Mom and the others. And I am sure others felt it too.
One of your many gifts was how you always were very strong and resilient. And now everyone that’s left behind will need to channel that strength to face the days ahead. But I’m not worried, because I know you are out there. Watching over us. Like Madoka Kaname.
Last night, as I sat in the car, gazing out the window, you were telling me your final wishes. They were so clear. All I had to do was open my heart and listen.
Your first and most powerful wish was for us to hold onto hope. To never lose faith. To treasure your memory and make the Haven an even better place than it is already. You want us to live on like you are still here with us, in the sense that the Haven continues to be a place of love and gathering and sharing knowledge and wisdom. And fun with friends and family. And your other wish was that you wanted us to continue taking care of all the animals.
You also told me that you understood why Bhauji called you the “landlord”. It was because your spirit would always be watching over the Haven. That slice of land is now officially your turf, under your protection.
I am hoping against all odds that Christina also makes it. She’s an amazing person and one of the best friends I’ve ever had. But if she doesn’t, I know the two of you will find each other. And that you will be watching over us together. Khayla, I consider it the highest honor that I could be your older brother. Our lives will never be the same. I just hope that we can fulfill your wishes. And I will do my best to leave my ‘spiritual’ channels open for anything else you would like to express. I love you more than anything, little sis. Rest in peace.