Come on Board

I received the email below from James Wu exactly a year ago and asked him if I could share it on the website sometime in 2012.  James and Jessica met through Acumen Fund and as you will see, he is one of many who were touched by Jessica.


Hi Danielle,

I’ve been trading wonderful and unbelievably thoughtful, heartfelt emails filled with love and warmth and hope and a sense of community with many of my friends and co-workers today who all knew Jessica.

As I thought of the many gifts Jessica gave us, I remembered a quote a colleague once shared with me from Suketu Mehta’s book “Maximum City.”


“If you are late for work in the morning in Bombay, and you reach the station just as the train is leaving the platform, you can run up to the packed compartments and find many hands stretching out to grab you on board, unfolding outwards from the train like petals. As you run alongside the train, you will be picked up and some tiny space will be made for your feet on the edge of the open doorway. The rest is up to you. You will probably have to hang on to the door frame with your fingertips, being careful not to lean out too far lest you get decapitated by a pole placed too close to the tracks.

But consider what has happened. Your fellow passengers, already packed tighter than cattle are legally allowed to be, their shirts already drenched in sweat in the badly ventilated compartment, having stood like this for hours, retain an empathy for you, know that your boss might yell at you or cut your pay if you miss this train, and will make space where none exists to take one more person with them.

And at the moment of contact, they do not know if the hand that is reaching for theirs belongs to a Hindu or Muslim or Christian or Brahmin or untouchable, or whether you were born in this city or arrived only this morning, or whether you live in Malabar Hill or New York or Jogeshwari; whether you’re from Bombay or New York.

All they know is that you’re trying to get to the city of gold, and that’s enough. Come on board, they say. We’ll adjust.”


In many ways, I feel like this sentiment and this spirit was embodied by Jessica. No matter what was going on, no matter how busy she was, no matter how stressed, no matter how tough the situation, no matter the mood or disposition of those people she came in contact with – even perfect strangers – she was always there, with open arms, an outstretched hand, and an amazingly radiant smile to lift your spirits, make you feel welcome, and make you feel like you mattered.

We miss her dearly. But, we are all so much stronger and so much better because of her. Sending you and your family and her closest friends my love and warmest thoughts on this day.


Comment Policy: Thank you for sharing your kind and loving comments. Please use your real name. All comments are moderated and will be approved as soon as possible.