letter to a girl who died too young

Dear Chopstix,

I remember you as the thin girl with dreads past your tiny waist, black tattoos running the length of your arms and hands, piercings around your lips and nose. Back then, you tended bar with an air of hostility and annoyance–your body like a cat, sauntering back and forth behind the counter, lean and marked. Poised. Tough like weathered leather and nails; striking and elegant like soft gold.

When you walked into my life last spring, I was unsure how I would ever relate. The two of us, so blatantly different, attempting small talk. You stood behind the bar stool, quiet and distant. Or sat in the corner of my patio and crocheted. I tripped around, serving homemade treats and pouring drinks. Most people mistook your distance for rudeness. I understood it as shyness.

And suddenly, there you were, slowly lifting the lid. I remember how you put down your small hand-spun project on the patio table, pulling your chair closer to me, excitedly talking about textiles, hand-made clothing, people in the craft world we respected. People we didn’t. I remember the way you leaned towards me, your eyes wide and laughing. Your long fingered hands wrapped around a second glass of whiskey, your black-painted fingernails chipped, your lean arms animated, your face framed by jet black bangs. As a new friend, you were like a mystery unraveling; stitch by stitch you handed me another story. You were fun and raw and incredibly funny.

The morning the call came, it was bright and warm. I stood still in the middle of the sidewalk, stunned by the news. I sat on the ground, gripping blades of grass and pulling them out in small clumps.
C told me the last night he saw you, you danced with him, and he laughed because you didn’t want him to leave the dance floor. You wanted to keep dancing.

In the days since then, I find myself wandering my studio, running my hands over pieces of leather, bits of cloth, dipping my arms deep into bins of wool and alpaca. I drive with music blasting, imagining your hands moving quickly over hand-spun wool and how you left such a deep impression on me in such a short amount of time: your authenticity, your unwavering commitment to your craft.

Your death has reminded me the world is an enormously beautiful and intensely fragile place.

You will be missed.


*Chopstix died on Wednesday, August 3rd of a sudden aneurysm. She was 30 years old.

(photographs of Chopstix Waits taken and provided by Marc Bollman)
(Chopstix’s facebook page)

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  1. dina
    Posted September 1, 2012 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    heartachingly beautiful. xo

  2. Mary
    Posted September 1, 2012 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

    rest in peace

  3. Nancy
    Posted September 1, 2012 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

    What a lovely tribute.
    Do you know what happened? Is there anymore information out there? So many people are grieving out there on FB. She changed the way people work with materials, art etc.
    Never met her–but, oh, how I wish I had!



  4. luc
    Posted September 2, 2012 at 12:00 am | Permalink

    amazing rach. just beautiful.
    she was an amazing woman.
    sending you love and peace


  5. Xylia
    Posted September 2, 2012 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    What a beautiful tribute to a truly unique and beautiful woman. The world feels different now.

  6. Isabelle
    Posted September 2, 2012 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    A beautiful tribute….. Thank you so much. Chopstix was the most amazing artist and beautiful person I’ve ever known. She was very sensitive, shy and feminine. I’ve never met her in person but I really loved her art and personality. All the pieces I own from her will have now a special meaning to me. I will miss you so much. Rest in peace beautiful young lady.

  7. rhonda
    Posted September 2, 2012 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

    Thank you Rachel for your beautiful and heartfilled words. I agree, the world does seem like a different place now.

  8. Posted September 3, 2012 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

    thank you for such a heartfelt remembrance… of a beautiful and artistic girl, loved even from afar, by so many… beacause she was who she was…
    she inspired me daily on etsy as i know many others have also shared … such inspiration is precious
    some artists lead strange lives and to connect in a meaningful way is always such a gift.

    i am thankful for how this beautiful girl touched and enriched my life forever on…

    rest in peace and love

  9. Jessica Melusine
    Posted September 4, 2012 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    I am heartbroken-I just found out, went looking for fall clothes and-
    I wear the skirts she made at least once a week. It always made me so happy to see a package from her. We only ever got to chat on Etsy -was glad I got to share some of her beautiful work with the world (I always took cards to pass out to people who said they loved them-they would stop me and ask).

    Good journey to you, wonderful lady.

  10. Rachele
    Posted September 5, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Permalink


  11. Posted September 6, 2012 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    Thank you so much Rachel for this beautiful tribute. I am one of many of her customer. I own one unique skirt she made and was in the process of purchasing a dress from her. It was literaly less than 2 weeks ago we communicated.

    I am so ..very sad about her loss, and definetly angry. What a spirit to go too early. I will miss her a lot. RIP sister

  12. racheal lochner
    Posted September 8, 2012 at 6:13 am | Permalink

    Thank you for this lovely letter and tribute to my little sister, Chopstix. Your words made me feel closer to her. I never want to forget. She made a huge impact on those around her, and I carry part of her with me always.

    racheal lochner

  13. Posted September 15, 2012 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

    So delicate and fragile, but so strong and rawly beautiful. I too wish I could have met her! I only stumbled accross her beautiful work yesterday linking from Etsy. I hope you will leave her FB page for many others to find, to explore and enjoy and to leave their thoughts. Much Love

  14. Susan Traxler Martin
    Posted September 18, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    I’m so touched by this, my heart breaks for her friends and family. What a wonderfully talented artist. I wish I could have met her. Rest in peace, gentle spirit.

  15. Posted October 30, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    I am so sorry to hear of this news. I was just heading over to her shop to say hello and see what she was up to. I am so fortunate to have gotten to know her a bit, and we traded handmade skirts. I will cherish mine always.
    Jess, you have encouraged and inspired me. Thank you for being in my life. Rest well.
    <3 Susie

  16. Nancy Krampf
    Posted December 21, 2012 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    oh what a loss to the universe i so loved her spirit. i found her visibly beautiful and intriguing and loved her clothes so very much , was just on my way to check in on etsy to order a skirt as part of my christmas present from my husband.
    i finally googled to find her .
    and here i am sadden by our collective creative loss.

    shine on you bright star, shine on

    sending love , light and compassion in this time of loss to all she touched

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