This tribute is almost too hard to write. How do I memorialize a woman who, without any personal interaction, has changed the course of my life? In short, that’s what Ruth Bader Ginsburg did – almost all of the liberties, both monotonous and monumental, that underrepresented groups have, they owe to RBG. In her professional life that spanned over 60 years, Ginsburg fought relentlessly for equal rights: she fought for us.
Her life is marked by a fervent desire to continue learning and fighting for justice. During her husband’s battle with cancer, which was throughout her first year of law school, she did both of their schoolwork so he didn’t fall behind. She raised a child while attending one of the most prestigious schools in the nation, where she later graduated top of her class. She endured nonstop gender discrimination that was both pervasive and normalized so that she could one day help dismantle the very foundations that allowed that discrimination to thrive. The day after her husband died of cancer, she got back to work so she could fight for us.
Ginsburg is the reason I could even consider attending college. I can have a bank account, my own credit card and a mortgage in my name because of Justice Ginsburg. She helped progress and strengthen equal pay protections for women. It is illegal to fire women because they are pregnant thanks to Ginsburg. Women can serve on juries because of Ginsburg. People can marry whomever they love thanks to Ginsburg. The list goes on and on.
I think the reason Justice Ginsburg felt, and continues to feel, so dear and close to everyone is because her advocacy, decisions and dissents have influenced every aspect of American life. Everything is different, for the better, because Ginsburg decided to fight until her very last moment to ensure everyone truly had equal protection under the law.
Grieving Ginsburg feels like grieving a friend – someone who has always been there. She protected the marginalized like a mother, became a role model and example like a grandmother and fought beside us like a sister.
Grieving Ginsburg brings up a multiplicity of emotions. I feel sad to have lost someone so inspiring and integral to American life. I feel sad that we will no longer be graced by her presence. I feel sad that so much – liberties, stability and the progress of equality – seems to have depended on one woman. I feel angry that upon news of her death I was not immediately able to feel sad but instead afraid for what will happen in her absence.
But if there’s anything Ginsburg taught people throughout her life, it is that the fight for equality is never over, and no one fights alone. Ginsburg led the fight for us, and it is up to us to finish it. Throughout her remarkable life, Ginsburg truly represented the fight for equality – and that fight will be carried on in her absence. Her constant voice and unwavering support for equality have taught us all what it truly means to be an advocate in all areas of life. She was authentic and strong, and thus able to help us all learn to be the same. Her life and legacy remind us to be vigilant, resilient, relentless and outspoken for the cause of others.
Ginsburg’s impact and legacy are forever cemented into the history of the U.S. and the memory of people the world over. May her memory be our continued fight, and may we honor her legacy.
There is a Jewish saying, said upon hearing of one’s death, that has become even more touching and poignant in Ginsburg’s absence: “.ברוך דיין האמת / Baruch dayan ha’emet, ” or “Blessed is the true Judge.”