People last saw Krishna Venkatesh, a 27-year-old Microsoft product manager in Redmond, on Oct. 15, 2014. He is still missing, and his family and friends continue to grapple with unanswered questions.
I have always been grateful for Krishna’s friendship, especially since we graduated college in 2009. That’s the time when making new friends can be challenging, and old friends can change or drift away. Fortunately, I never had to worry about Krishna being only part of my past; we both made efforts to stay connected ever since becoming friends in middle school – even though we went to different senior high schools and colleges, and lived in different time zones when we started our careers.
I knew my life was better with him in my circle of close friends, but I didn’t fully realized how special he was until he was gone. Because he was not just special to me, or to several people – which undoubtedly he was – but Krishna was special, period.
He had the organization, analysis and methodology of a scientist combined with the empathy and compassion of a counselor. His curiosity and thirst for knowledge made him a reliable resource for friends and family on just about any topic. Career advisor, financial wizard, trip planner, editor, host – he wore all of these hats and more.
I’ve been reflecting for almost three months since his disappearance, and I cannot recall a time when I was angry with him. Aggravated because he was relentlessly making fun of me during a group dinner? Yes, but not angry. I never once felt that he put our friendship in jeopardy.
The thing about our friendship that stands out to me the most, though, was his constant presence in my life. I cannot identify one friend I have known for 15 years that has consistently been there for me. People often fade in and out as time marches forward, but not Krishna. He was always a quick call, email or text away.
Krishna also seemed to have this profound understanding of what was important in life – people. His smile, warmness and ability to connect instantly put new acquaintances at ease, and his small, thoughtful acts, like sending a random postcard, kept him close to old friends.
He understood that relationships not only enrich life but they also need nurturing. So he prioritized his time accordingly, always setting aside time to enjoy the presence of his friends and family or to support them.
This love and respect for those close to him started with his family. Every Sunday, he always reserved time to talk with his parents. He also made an effort to stay in touch with his grandmother in India. On her most recent trip to Texas in 2013, Krishna flew halfway across the country to see her not once but twice during her six-week visit. These are just a few examples that speak volumes about how much he valued his family and friends.
So if we’ve lost someone so wonderful, how could there be anything uplifting about this situation?
Dealing with the uncertainties surrounding Krishna’s sudden departure has been challenging at best; however, I have found comfort in the collective acts of his family, friends and colleagues – from the number of people showing their concern to the intensity of the search efforts and the compassion demonstrated.
When it became clear Krishna was missing, his friends – many who had no other connection to each other besides Krishna –across the country banded together to figure out what happened. Using any tool and skill at their disposal, people called, texted, tweeted and sent Facebook messages, leveraging every medium to investigate and create awareness.
Friends created a Facebook page, Finding Krishna Venkatesh, and used the hashtag #FindKrishna on Twitter to spread the word and send updates. Another created an app that mapped out Krishna’s location the day he disappeared using data in the cloud that was synced from his phone.
Besides the impressive search efforts, people have done a variety of things to support his parents and continue to do so. When Krishna’s dad was still in Seattle, friends went with him to a park to exercise so he wouldn’t miss his usual boot camp workout. Friends have also called his parents on Sundays, driven hours to meet with them, flown in from around the country and contributed their pictures of Krishna to be included in a photo album.
One of the most cherished endeavors is WeAreKrishna.com, a memorial site created by a few of his tech-savvy friends, where anyone can share their stories, reflections and thoughts about their time with him no matter how brief. Through this site, which connects us to Krishna’s essence, everyone is part of something more impactful than anything we could have created individually.
I find all of these small and large acts of kindness during this devastating time comforting because they are proof that part of Krishna lives on in all of us. Taking time out of our schedule for others, acknowledging and supporting those who are grieving, just being there for people we love – those are things that Krishna would do.
Despite the heartache and unanswered questions, seeing the Krishna in us is absolutely beautiful.