Marina Keegan's Words Live On, One Year After Her Death

PHOTO: Kevin and Tracy Keegan kiss their daughter Marina at her graduation from Yale in May, 2012. She was killed days later in a car crash.

In the year since the death of 23-year-old activist writer Marina Keegan in a car crash, her mother said the power of her daughter's words sustain her and continue to inspire others in the art world and beyond.

"My daughter totally inspired me and moved me," Tracy Keegan, 55, of Wayland, Mass., told "Her words are how she will live on, and it's really important to me."

Marina had just graduated from Yale University, where her prophetic and inspirational essay, "The Opposite of Loneliness," appeared in a special graduation issue of the campus newspaper.

READ: Marina Keegan's "Opposite of Loneliness."

After her death on May 26, 2012, the celebrated writer's haunting words: "We're so young. We're so young. We're 22 years old. We have so much time" went viral.

Marina and her boyfriend, Michael Gocksch, were driving to the Keegan's summer house in Wellfleet, Mass., when the car hit a guard rail and spun across the road, rolling over twice. He survived, but she died instantly.

"It's been an unbelievably hard journey for all of us and of course, Michael," she said. "I am plodding along -- she would not want us to stop living. But it's unbelievably hard and Mother's Day was tough."

In the months since, Tracy and her husband Kevin Keegan, a cyber threat specialist, and their two sons, 18 and 26, have received hundreds of messages from around the world.

"Her words actually pushed people to make positive changes in their world view -- not only in their head, but their actions," said Keegan. "That to me is her legacy. As her mother, I really feel that my daughter continues her work as long as her words reach people."

And now Marina's sense of optimism and social justice will be memorialized in the national premier of her play, "Utility Monster," at the Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater -- opening on the anniversary weekend of her death.

The play, written while she was a sophomore at Yale, is about two idealistic 15-year-olds who realize that 35,000 children die of hunger each day, and for only the price of a lunch at Taco Bell, two could be saved.

"This is a play that can change lives," said Dan Lombardo, artistic director for the theater, who met Kevin Keegan by accident and learned his daughter was a playwright. He asked to see the script.

"I knew immediately I was reading someone who was extra-gifted," said Lombardo. "I get hundreds of scripts a year from well-known playwrights … It's rare that a play comes in this brilliant."

The car accident hit the small Cape Cod community "so hard," he said. "It just leaves us utterly bereft, and I cannot imagine what it is like for a parent to lose a child -- and then turn it around in a way that we have something tangible we can do to celebrate her genius."

"Utility Monster" was written while Marina was at Yale and produced in 2011 by the Yale Dramatic Association (DRAMAT), the first student show in four years.

Throughout her college years, she had been mentored by playwrights Donald Margulies and Deborah Margolin. Writer and critic Harold Bloom considered her an "unofficial granddaughter," according to the family.

Just before her death, Marina had been offered a full-time job on the editorial staff at The New Yorker.

Marina's musical, "Independents," also written at Yale, won best overall production at the New York International Fringe Festival in 2012 as well as a New York Times Critics Award.

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