Members of the Harvard community gathered in Memorial Church on Wednesday to share memories of Wendy H. Chang ’12, who died on April 21.
Attendees of the memorial, which was organized by friends of Chang, filled up two thirds of the pews in the church.
“If it were anyone else, I don’t know you could fill a space like this with people she truly touched,” Chloe K. Goodwin ’12 said. “But for Wendy, I believe.”
A spokesperson for the agency overseeing the medical examiner confirmed last week that Chang’s death had been ruled a suicide.
An only child, Chang is survived by her father C.J. and her mother Ingrid.
The service began with opening words from Lowell House Co-Master Dorothy A. Austin and Tanya Henderson, a leader for the Buddhist movement Soka Gakkai International, which Chang belonged to.
While members of the Nichiren Buddhist Community performed a chant, attendees formed a procession to offer a rose or incense for Chang’s spirit. According to a pamphlet distributed by S.G.I. at the memorial, the “Nam Myoho Renge Kyo” chant was meant to awaken Buddhist brotherhood, while the smell of incense symbolizes the everlasting presence of loved ones who have died.
Lowell House Co-Master Diana L. Eck read aloud excerpts of a speech Chang had submitted for the senior class’ upcoming Class Day exercises.
In the speech, entitled “Many Brick Buildings,” Chang wrote that Harvard students were much like the strong brick buildings that populate the campus. She cautioned her fellow students not to house their hearts behind brick exteriors.
“We are often seen more as seeming okay rather than being okay,” Eck read from Chang’s speech.
The memorial also included a slideshow of photographs of Chang with friends around campus set to Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You,” One Republic’s “Good Life,” and Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours.”
“Never did I imagine I would walk through life without her,” said Kristin E. Arn ’12. She had imagined that she and Chang would pick out graduation dresses together, be bridesmaids in each others’ weddings, and sit side by side at reunions, she said.
“Today I have a hole in my heart in the shape of Wendy,” Arn said. No one could ever fill it, she continued, “and I don’t want them to.”
Many students spoke of Chang’s ability to make even banal and ordinary aspects of life exciting.
Erika P. Pierson ’12 recalled trips to CVS, where she and Chang would stock up on cheap make-up like fake eyelashes and “anything with glitter.”
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