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Letter: A tribute to Natalie Jude’s kindness and capacity for love

Monday, Dec. 4 would have been the 21st birthday of former Daily Lobo editor Natalie Jude. The loss of Natalie on March 26, 2023 was a devastating blow to all that knew her kind soul and radiating goodness – leaving an ever-filling well of sadness for the many people whose lives she touched. I am honored to have met her and to have been able to call her a friend for the time I was able to.

I first met Natalie when we started at the paper at the same time in the fall semester of 2021. We became good friends that spring and lived together in bleak campus housing for part of that summer. She was a beautiful soul with bright, expressive eyes and a magnetic personality. She was a truly good person, capable of kindness even in circumstances which would challenge the patience and goodness of a saint.

She was funny and bubbly – the kind of person it’s impossible not to want to be around. She loved hamsters and sweets and the Vera Chytilova movie “Daisies”; she had great taste in music; she was whip-smart. Natalie was a once-in-a-lifetime presence, and I don’t think I will ever have the good luck to meet another person quite like her.

She was uniquely skilled in making people feel important and valuable. When it seemed like no one else was there, I always felt like I could go to Natalie with my troubles and she would take it on with the strength of Atlas, as if she had no problems of her own already piled up on her back.

When I think of Natalie, I think of when I was rushed to the hospital two Marches ago. I had no access to my phone and nobody knew where I was. We had only been friends for a month or two at this point, but after my boss asked if she knew where I was, she managed to track down my location using her resident advisor status to find my roommate’s phone number and called them posing as a student housing official.

When I finally got my phone back, I was bombarded by a barrage of texts and well wishes from Natalie. When I got out of the hospital, she gave me a gift basket of sweets and kind words. I had very few close friends at the time, and I thought I would go out quietly. Not while Natalie was around.

I feel fraudulent at times in my grief: I did not know Natalie all that long in the grand scheme of things. But then again, she did not get the chance to know herself all that well either. She was so preposterously full of life, and she had so much left to do in this world – people to meet, hearts to touch, places to see.

Natalie was supposed to go to Spain this past summer to work on a documentary. She wanted to direct and write and was phenomenal at it, among a host of other things. She could act, play the piano by ear and was an exceptional photographer. She had an eye for beauty that only comes from seeing the darkest parts of life and making it out, scathed, but appreciative of the things that were still good and pure and lovely. There was not a thing she couldn’t or wouldn’t do. Brave is an overused word that has lost all meaning, but Natalie was brave in the fullest, truest sense.

Natalie was living in Portland at the time of her death, and I did not find out until a week after it happened. It felt like a high-speed train coming to a clunky, thudding halt. How could something like this happen? She had just moved a couple weeks ago and was planning to finish her degree at Portland State University. There was Europe in the summer. Maybe New York City in the fall. What about all the places she was bound to go? What did they all accumulate to now? Surely not nothing. Such a wonderful person was never meant to befall such true, blue tragedy.

Natalie is survived by a large family and circle of friends who loved her deeply and continue to carry on her memory with bittersweet warmth. I’ve found it hard to come by a person who has much bad to say about her. How could you? Natalie was good. There is not much more you could ask a person to be.

Natalie is buried in the peaceful countryside of Washington state where she was born. The site is atop a quiet canyon that grants all of the calm and serenity she was oh-so deserving of during her lifetime.

I hope those who knew and loved Natalie are able to find some peace during this difficult time and continue to find ways to carry on their legacy and strive toward even a fraction of her kindness and capacity for love.

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Those interested can consider donating to the Nurture and Thrive (NAT) Fund, an emergency scholarship founded through the Women’s Resource Center in honor of Natalie.

Zara Roy is the former copy editor of the Daily Lobo

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