I almost made it through the day without crying.
Six years ago today, one of my dear friends and future colleague was tragically killed in a car accident. Truthfully, I spent half the daywithout realizing that today was the “anniversary” of her death. As I prepared for bed just mere minutes ago, I was led to have some sort of quiet time with God. Shamefully, amidst a schedule that has me either on call or post call basically every other day, I’ve neglected my time with God this week. So, I went, as I was led. I opted for a devotional book “Morning Rounds” – a compilation of devotionals written by Loma Linda School of Medicine students, alumni and faculty for its Centennial year a few years ago. I’ve had this book for almost a year, and I sometimes skip around and just read a random one. Today, I opted to read the one for June 14. As I looked at the first words: “I lost my best friend…”, I thought, “Oh wow, how ironic for me to read a thought on losing a friend, on THIS particular day”. I read on, and realized that the thought was about MY friend, MY Hersha LaRissa King. It was submitted by one of her classmates who despite the short time that he knew her, he had captured the essence of who she was. I wasn’t a third of the way into the piece before my eyes bursted with tears. I had almost made it through the day…almost. And now, with tear soaked face, I will share his words with you…
“I lost my best friend, Hersha King, because of a car accident during our first year of medical school. Being a very shy person, I am not good at making new friends. However, now I have many friends in the class because of Hersha. One day in my religion class, the instructor pointed at each student and then asked the other classmates to tell something they knew about that person. Only a few students knew me, so I was worried what would happen when my turn came. Fortunately, Hersha was in the class and she introduced me to the others. *side bar* This the part where I lost it, because it was so true, so representative of who she was.
Hersha also understood my difficulty with English. When I could not understand a colloquial expression she always explained the term or the meaning of the sentence to me. When I said something incorrectly in English, she kindly corrected me.
Hersha had such an open heart. She was the only person I could feel free to talk to whenever I needed someone to talk with. If I called her, she would always call me back and give me thoughtful advice, even when she was busy. When I heard the new of her death, I looked at my cell phone’s calling history; her name popped up first. It was difficult for me to accept the reality of her death at the time.
Because Hersha and I were in the biomedical science program, we worked together. We shared the same goal, which was to become good doctors and serve according to God’s plan for us. Although she did not have the opportunity to reach this goal, her spirit is always with me.
What I learned from Hersha are Christian traits that are very admirable. She was not afraid to offer sound advice or be helpful, she was willing to listen, and she found time for our friendship. By reaching out to me, she created a bond that I will forever cherish as I try to demonstrate her excellent qualities to others. Perhaps people come into our lives, even if briefly,to show us how we should live the Christian life. ”
John Kioka, LLUSM, class of 2009.
My dear friend was a truly amazing woman, amazing Christian, and had all the makings to be an amazing physician. Her biggest goal in life was to touch the lives of many through medicine. Despite not having the opportunity to complete her medical degree, she did just that. She is remembered by many for her willingness to help, her willingness to serve others in times of need, her incomparable ability to encourage others, and for the gift of friendship that she offered so indiscriminately. I know I”m not alone when I say that because of knowing her, my life will never be the same.
Sleep well my friend, until I see you again.