Life is lived by dates.
We start our journey on this earth on our birth date—a person’s first bookend, if you will—commemorated every year with an obligatory candle-blowing and butchering of the birthday song. Each year thereafter, we add page after page of dates, each date with a record of story or event of varying degrees of impact, influence, or importance: learning to walk, having your first crush, graduating, passing the bar, getting promoted, getting married, the works. Yet, many of the dates in between will be forgettable, occasionally regrettable, but oftentimes inconsequential at best—peppered in our journals as uneventful periods or saved on our digital calendars as tasks to clear to get through the day. However, these dates write themselves in our timelines, and they all shape our days, months, and years, influencing our emotions, spirits, thoughts, and defining who we are and who we aspire to be.
That is, until the universe decides you’ve had enough revolutions around the sun, thank you, and puts your second bookend, where all your future dates become replaced and remembered by one other significant period: Your death date.
By her second bookend, Mikki Tan only had 45 revolutions around the sun, but with countless dates and periods in between: A period when she was a little orator, propped by her teacher on top of the classroom table, because she was so small, and her voice was tiny, but she was a good little grade school orator; a timeline when she was a studious home schooled student who almost effortlessly tore through her modules because, that’s simply what you do when you have an advanced mind; a period when she was swimming in a river of ideals put forth by philosophers, because, to cinch a double degree, it was imperative to question everything (apparently).
There was a date that wrote itself when she became a hall-of-famer for downing 15 ungodly shots of random liquor on a beachside without ever passing out; another period made indelible on her book of life when she became a media and advertising practitioner and called shots on high-profile campaigns; another timeline etched for posterity, where she was a coolcalmcollected facilities manager overseeing every nook and cranny of buildings assigned to her. “Ma’am, we have a problem on this floor.” Mikki, in her barely five-foot stature, would coolly bolt to the root cause of the problem, whip up orders, and save the day for everyone.
Dates, times, periods. Each one with a story to tell as plotted by destiny. But on many occasions, Mikki took command of her dates.
In the 45 batches of timelines written in her lifetime, she authored a lot of her own stories of existence, of losing and winning, of fighting, of living, of loving. Hers were never linear timelines, because she was never meant to have a flat, boring life; Mikki reveled in the high points, and fought fiercely during the lowest points. Mikki hated the dates that made up the least pleasant moments of her storyline, but she made sure that those fueled her to strike back, upwards, and only onwards.
The thing about someone’s dates is that they cross paths and lines with those of other people. One of mine crossed with one of hers after we were introduced—perhaps a good example of what constitutes as a “significant date,” but to me, will always be more appropriately tagged as a serendipitous one.
Lucky, that’s me.
She crossed dates not just with me, but with all the people who knew her, and she changed a lot of these people’s stories– and even lives–for better, maybe some for worse, but all to be remembered in the years to come. Mikki Tan’s dates with each person who crossed her timelines have put together this patchwork of tales, which now hold together everyone who was given the privilege of owning at least one moment in time with her. Our stories, dates, and timelines have become connected and intertwined, all by Mikki’s charge when she was still with us. The people she left behind can now forge and write timelines that intersect with one another: Me having conversations with her sister and cousins; her past colleagues from a previous work hanging out with colleagues from her most recent one; her long-time friends catching up with her newer ones, her past love and current love connecting to remember the magic that she brought to their lives.
Unseen lines everywhere. If Mikki were still here, I bet, with a bemused face, she’d look at all the connections made by all the people she knew in her life and say, “look at this beautiful mess I’ve created.”
Mikki Tan’s second bookend was placed on August 25, 2023. For most people, it’s a date that’s like any other: uneventful. But to those closest to this small wonder, it was the date when we, the people who mattered to her, were called upon to band and bond for her, in celebration of her, and of what she had created in all of us.
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