It is a perhaps precarious thing to write about the death of someone I did not “know,” but maybe could have. This isn’t like eulogizing Whitney Houston, even if she indirectly provided a soundtrack to parts of my life. I had no delusions that I would ever follow in Whitney’s footsteps.
Erica Kennedy is … different. Long before I committed to being a writer, I daydreamed about being one. And as I flipped through the pages of Vibe, reading and re-reading the words of dream hampton, Lola Ogunnaike, and of course, Erica, a fashion publicist turned writer turned author, I saw not just words, but possibilities. When I found the gumption to tell my parents, “No, I’m not going to law school, I’m going to be a writer,” it was those women – and more—who turned my “maybe I can do this” into “yes, I actually can.”
I heard Erica was gone the way I hear most things: via Twitter. I’d logged on after an unusual hours-long absence due to writing deadlines. I caught a friend, one Erica and I shared, referring to Erica in the past tense. “Erica Kennedy was a great writer and friend,” she wrote. Was? Huh? I searched her name.
Erica, 42, was found in her apartment June 13, according to her cousin. The cause of her death isn’t publicly known. It took two days for news of her death to hit Erica’s writer colleagues, an eternity in modern journalism. Kimora Lee-Simmons, Erica’s best friend who appointed Erica godmother to her own daughters, Ming and Aoki, tweeted she was “devastated.”
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