Chyna Sky Gonzalez died by suicide March 9 after a long struggle with drug addiction. She was 32.
Born in San Leandro, California, on Dec. 4, 1986, Gonzalez spent her childhood in the Bay Area and graduated from Castro Valley High School in 2004. Shortly after graduation, Gonzalez moved to Portland, Oregon where she met her two best friends, Tim and Stephanie Ekeren, who are a married couple.
Gonzalez and the Ekerens moved to Chicago two years later to pursue career opportunities in the service industry. She worked at Kuma's Corner, The Empty Bottle and The Punch House before taking on her last job as Front Room Chicago's general manager.
In 2013, Gonzalez met Nikki Kalinowski through mutual friends, and they officially became a couple on Pride weekend that year. They got married on Sept. 12, 2016. On Feb. 4 of this year their son Julian was born.
Being outdoors was one of Gonzalez's passions. She spent her time skateboarding as well as riding and building bikes for friends. Gonzalez also liked to cook; her favorite recipe was her grandmother's enchiladas. She also loved to dance and make people laugh.
Gonzalez is survived by her wife, son, mother Julia, father Daniel, sisters Amber and Maya, brother Danny and many chosen family members.
"Every time we went out, it was guaranteed that we would either run into friends or make new ones," said Kalinowski. "Chyna just drew people to her. She took joy in shining a mirror on exactly what made people special, and taught me that love is to be shared loudly and with abandon.
"Addiction tells you lies about yourself, and isolates people from the truth of how loved you are. This is why sharing her story is so important to me."
"I know so many hearts are tender, hurting and restless," said friend and co-worker Rebecca Hendrix. "Chyna and I worked together for a short period of time, and she made everyone a happier, brighter, funnier version of themselves. "
"Missing you, dude," said longtime friend Jared Darfler. "The undisputed most savage 106-pound, bandanna-wearing, eyebrow piercing-having, sarcastic, funny as hell, chick in the pit. You were always so honest and nice. You were the type of person I could go five years without seeing and instantly have that warm friendly vibe with again. Whenever you showed up somewhere, everybody would instantly be in a more excited mood. I always loved that effect you had on others."
"I am thankful for the time our paths crossed," said friend and co-worker Parker Haines. "You are the kind of person that, when you love something or someone, everyone knows it and feels it. I loved your curious spirit and your joyous contagious smile."
"My Chynita, my cheech, my pit bull," said friend and co-worker Meg Silvas. "You were the first person to tell me it is okay to not be okay."
"She would change the entire mood of 20-plus individuals in an instant," said friend and co-worker Michael Swing. "It was a truly powerful thing to witness."
"Chyna was the type of person who it was impossible to not fall in love with her," said friend Tera Murray. "I am honored to carry on her legacy in my memory and in my heart."
Gonzalez's memorial service was held March 13 at The Front Room Chicago, with about 200 people in attendance.
Friends are requesting that in lieu of flowers people should make a donation to the support fund for Gonzalez's widow and child www.gofundme.com/support-fund-for-family-of-chyna-sky-gonzalez.