Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Alysia's 4th Anniversary

My dear, darling daughter,

For your memorial lunch this year, we gathered this year at Shutter's On The Beach, in Santa Monica. Katherine, Ashley, and mom, Aliana and me, just a small group to remember you a day or so early. Though you know we will never forget you, we have to pick a day and this year it was the day after my birthday. It's tough always having those two things on top of each other, and adding to that Paramo's passing on May 1 means that the last week of April generally sucks. (Though the presents were nice. I ended up picking out most of my own presents this year, but I waited to open them until Saturday afternoon, even though I so wanted to start playing my new bass guitar. See, I have more patience than you!)

Shutter's is a pretty place, do you remember? We had lunch there, you, me, Mom, Ashley and Rae in like late 2008 and you were having some sort of snit and it was kind of a weird and not terribly fun time. So why did we choose it for your memorial lunch? Now, that's a story I think you'll like:

It was in early July of 2010, after you were gone, and Mom's and my anniversary had blown by without much notice, as we were too wrapped up in our emotions to pay attention. But we decided to have lunch at Shutter's, because Mom felt that she hadn't gotten to enjoy it when we had gone before. I made reservations, and then ordered flowers to be delivered to the restaurant, so we could have them during lunch. You know, the sort of romantic stuff both you and I love to do. I didn't tell Mom about the flowers; they were supposed to be a surprise. Well, the surprise was that they weren't there when we arrived, so I enlisted the help of the waitstaff to look for them, thinking that maybe they had been misdelivered. They looked everywhere to no avail, and the flower shop was completely clueless and unhelpful and offered to "redeliver them after 4 PM, because we're so busy". Yeah, like that'll help.  So, I was bummed, and explained to Joy about the missing flowers, and we ordered and sat and waited for our food, and cried.

(I have to tell you that after you died, and for about 2 years, every time we went out to eat by ourselves, we cried. It was one of the few places we could let down our guard and relax, because of not wanting to freak out Aliana with our emotions. So, by this time everyone at the restaurant knew the whole sad story, and were being wonderfully sympathetic. But I didn't and don't expect people to do more than commiserate, so what happened next blew me away.)

After the appetizer had been cleared, our waitress came up to the table, followed by the manager and about 4 other staff, with a large, square glass vase, filled with beautiful flowers, and placed them on our table. My jaw dropped a bit, and I asked if these were the flowers that I had ordered? No, they still hadn't arrived. Well, I said, then you must have found some extra flowers from catering for us? How sweet! But that wasn't it either. By this time I was totally confused, and asked, well, then where did they come from?

The smiles on the faces of the staff were ear to ear by this time. The manager said, "These were ordered for Mr Robert DeNiro, who is checking in later. We decided to give them to you, and get him some new ones, so that you can have flowers for your anniversary lunch." And that's how we ended up having lunch with Robert DeNiro's flowers.

Robert DeNiro's Flowers!

30 minutes later, the flowers I had ordered were delivered as well! 

Joined with Roses

So we ended up having a beautiful floral lunch, and cried on the waitresses and each other, and went home and grieved, but with a little less darkness.

Us, with flowers!

So, that's why we like Shutter's, and why we picked it for your lunch this year. We had fun talking with Ashley, who is doing really well (especially without Josh, ahem), and then walked to the Santa Monica Pier which has lots of memories for Aliana and Ashley, and the girls went on some rides, and then we walked back to the car, and headed home.

Katherine, Ashley and Aliana

It's been a weird, intense year. Aliana has had some significant challenges (and offered them to us, sweet child that she is), but has also become much more responsible for her emotions and her actions, which is tremendous. How can it be 4 years? It seems to have slipped by when we weren't looking; so much of the last years is a mist. We miss you so very much. It is tempting to sometimes think that if you were still here, you would solve Aliana's issues, sort of by magic. But we know better: you could just as easily have sided with her and reinforced some of her less-enjoyable traits! But we would trade it for you in a hot second, you know that, right?

I always look for some words to say at your memorial lunches, but often they don't appear until a few days or a week before. This year, it was the day before. William Allen White, eulogizing the passing of his 17-year-old daughter, Mary:

"A rift in the clouds in a gray day threw a shaft of sunlight upon her coffin as her nervous, energetic little body sank to its last sleep. But the soul of her, the glowing, fervent soul of her, surely was flaming in eager joy upon some other dawn."

I hope and pray that your soul, your glowing, fervent soul, is shining upon some other dawn, filled with people for you to shower your special brand of impish, romantic love on. Be well, my dear. May we meet again some day.

You know who 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

A message to my daughter


All here
as should be.
As to our
sorrow, it
would answer
to have touched
your hand,
the living,
or your sleeve,
this button
as you would
do, or
this one
left undone.
(c) G. Stanley Koehler
Found here, and reprinted with deep thanks and condolences to the Koehler family

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Happy 23rd Birthday, Alysia

My dear, darling, daughter,

Well, here we are, your 23rd birthday almost over. We've had an OK day, mostly just taking care of stuff, talking to friends, like that. Ashley and the girls left lovely messages for you on Facebook, I think Mom did too. I've been thinking about what I wanted to tell you, and really didn't come up with anything special, even though there's been a ton of things going on. So I' think I'll just catch you up on some family news, and let you go on to whatever you're up to now.

Saddest things first: some passings: Jamie, a dear friend of Sean's passed away just before Sean's birthday. He'd been mourning Sean since his death, kind of like you. Trying to get past the absence and I think it just caved in on him. He had called mom every year on Sean's birthday, and this year didn't call. We found out when BG (remember her?) called to let us know: we were on our way to pick up the new puppy, who we named Moe. A real furry bundle, he won't get to be as big as Oliver, but probably bigger than Bella. Who, by the way, is doing great. You really picked it well when you left her to Katherine: it's been a really wonderful thing to watch them grow together. Also, Jula, Paramo's mom, passed away Sunday. She was 95. I'll write some things about her in a few days. you only met her once in Zurich 7 years ago, but in her time she was a pistol.  So that's the end of that side of the family, unless we have an unknown brother/sister. Which I wouldn't put past either of the Chiara men, but no-one has surfaced to date.

Happier is that James is getting married in October to, ready for this? Ashley. Yep, another Ashley for our fam. I haven't met her yet, but the reports are very good. :-)

Ana is almost done with 7th grade, and you'd be proud of her. She's had her struggles and has come through really well. She's got a couple of health issues, but we're looking out for her and the whole family is now on the South Beach diet and acting like we're going to be all fit and stuff. We'll see; we've had good intentions before. It may be that Ana keeps us on track, that girl has steel for her decisions.

Mom and I saw the doctor for our annuals today, and he's not terribly happy, but we've promised to eat better and exercise more (see above). Seriously, I want to be in good shape for Katherine's wedding, if and when. No, she's not engaged so don't panic, but sooner or later she'll find someone and I'd rather not be a blimp when that happens. Since I can't look forward to yours, and Ana's is very far away we hope, Kath's is next up as a goal.

I've missed you terribly. I cry sometimes, and wish I could howl like a coyote at the moon in pain. It feels like there were things that really only you could advise mom and me on, especially around Aliana and the Parmley girls. And the talks we had! God, I wish we could have one more. I've talked to the moon, hoping it would reach you, but no answer. So I think we're on our own. Which truly sucks. Ana is pissed at you! Whoo, boy. Seriously, that girl is scary sometimes.

You would have just finished your sophomore year at UMBC, if things had gone as planned, and Katherine would have graduated from TFA, and now what would you be doing? Looking to transfer to somewhere? Totally involved in college? I can't see, you were always unpredictable. It was simultaneously one of your best and worst traits.

We had dinner tonight with Rene and the kids (Charlie is out of town on a shoot), we went to an Argentinian restaurant. A real family meal, like you loved: all of us together, eating and having fun. You were such a family kid for as much as you wanted to also be on your own. Not at all like me at your age, really; I just wanted to get out of Dodge. You looked to the family to give you, I don't know, a good feeling for just being you, not something you had to work at or for. You were always so loved and wanted. Did  you know that? I think you worried you weren't loved, and maybe weren't lovable. But you were, more than you'll ever know. And if sometimes we wanted to wring your neck, that was part of the package, too.

Well, it's Ana's bedtime, and she's already been to my office door (which I close when I write so I can not be interrupted by cat after dog after child), and so I think I have to go. I'll cry for you some more tonight, as will Mom, and then we'll sleep and get up and go on. The world is grayer without your light, my dear, but still it is a beautiful place, just like you wrote on your arm. take our love with you wherever you go, and always know that I have always and will always love you.

"I'll love you forever, I'll love you for always, as long as I'm living my baby you'll be."

Sweet dreams, kiddo,


Monday, May 21, 2012

On The Occasion Of Alysia's 2nd Memorial Lunch

Gabrielle Bouliane:

"When you hear that I have died, think of this.

"Think of cool nights breezes while you walk to meet your friends for a beer on a Thursday. Think of waking up in flannel sheets on a snowy morning and kissing someone you love. Think of hung-over diner breakfasts and the best cup of coffee in the world. Think of the sound of tires on seamed highways while you travel, think of French kissing and leather jackets and push-up bras and bourbon, think of the joy of hard work with friends. Then think of me.

"Not sad, not the melancholy solitude of empty skies, but the full days and crowded bars and signed contracts, a smile too big for my face, remember I said I stay busy enough to fit three lives into one. When you hear that I have died, know that I want laughter, and dancing, real dancing, to music that makes you move with out thinking, you’re wearing boots and jeans and a great t-shirt and wondering if the girl at the edge thinks you’re cute. And you motherfuckers had best DANCE, none of this bull­shit rock-nod hands-in-the-pockets shoegazer nonsense. No, make an ass out of yourself, feel your hips, kick off the high heels and sway on the shoulder of a stranger. When I die, you’d better be laughing your ass off on sidewalks, eating deliciously unhealthy food, drinking shots and tipping your bartender well no matter how much money you make.

"When you hear that I have died, the best thing you can do is to get laid that night with a comfortable stranger, use my story to get their sympathy, and when you kiss them for the first time, think of me then.

"When you hear that I have died, and you will, remember your best revenge is to live well, take risks, save up money and chase your perfect happiness. Beat the system and learn to make your art really support you, craft into something your audience can’t live without. Then make the world an even slightly better place ― stop throwing your cigarettes on the ground, vote in the next election, graffiti your life on the eyes of the hungry.

"Then just do me one last favor. Please. Love some thing. Anything. Start with your self, but find passion in everything, from an apple pie to a novel, make a family, get a degree, walk what ever path is yours with your chin up and feet planted firmly. Have the best stories to tell in the old folk’s home, about life long friendships and epic love affairs, about the time you lost every thing and yet found yourself happier than when you began.. and remember that time we got in SO much trouble...

"Poets, remember: This is the story that never ends. When one of us leaves, another walks through the door. The pages turn, the sun keeps rising. All you can do in the meanwhile...is to speak for yourself. Raise your voice high, tell your story, join hands against the dark and sing our souls to the sky. Know the best in me comes from the best in you, that as you tell your story, you will be telling mine, and our lives will be linked together for ever, and every one who hears you will become a part of the change we make.

"So when you hear that I have died...
                                         just …live.

Monday, January 3, 2011

On being a sweethearted person, and touching lives

At Alysia's memorial, we gave out rubber bracelets, in rainbow colors, with her name, dates and the words "Strive To Be Happy" surrounded by paw prints. Each part had a meaning: The rainbow of GLBT; the paws of Bella, her adored mutt (a be-wowa); the quote from Desiderata.

One of Alysia's close friends, Ashley, lost her bracelet. It was knocked out of her car, near where her boyfriend lives near Santa Monica. Ashley was very upset, we didn't know anything about it at that time.

A couple of days later, we got a phone call from the folks who made the bracelets: wristbands.com. Specifically, Shirley, who had worked with me to get them just the way we wanted them, which took some time, and then had to be rushed, etc. Shirley had made a very hard job easier, with her manner and compassion, and when we were done had wished us well, and that she would hold us in her heart and prayers. I never expected to hear from her again, but here she was on the phone, asking if we had lost a bracelet, and, if we had, did we want the phone number of the person who had found it?

We couldn't say yes fast enough, and Shirley gave me the name: Darrel Marsh. Now, before I go on, I have to tell you that wristbands.com is not a little place. For Darrel to call in and get the ONE person who not only knew about the wristbands, but how to get in touch with us, was nothing short of fantastic.

It turns out that Darrel had found the bracelet in the street, and recognizing it for a memorial, had read Alysia's name, counted the dates and recognized the rainbow, and wanted to return it to its rightful owner. When we found out where she found it, we called Ashley and she fessed up, and so soon after, she got her bracelet back.

The chain of coincidence here is long enough that I'm tempted to use the word "fate", or "God". In any case, this part of the story is now finished, with the letter that came today from Darrel, saying in part, "Thank you for sending me a bracelet, which I will cherish as a reminder of how easy it is to be kind and thoughtful of others, and how very short life really is."

Darrel and Shirley, you have no idea how much you touched our lives. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Longer Video

This one was going to go up on you-tube, but there was a little issue with the music. Oh well.

Anyway, this is the full-length version that we played at the memorial.

Stay well, peeps.

Alysia Long Memorial Video

Getting started

Hello, all.

Well, I finally got my stuff together to start this. Eventually, I'll put up a ton of stuff about Alysia, her writing, photos, poetry and such. I've begun work on a new video which pulls from early family video as well as later stills and maybe some voice, depending on what I can deal with. Feel free to comment, or send me stuff to put up. I'm going to move/copy (eventually) the few things from Johnny's Garage over here, so this will be the permanent place for all things Leeshie.

To start with, here's a link to the short memorial video. I will put up the long one too, but there is a lot of overlap. And I am working on editing the video of the memorial itself, but I can only do it a little at a time.

Alysia Short Memorial Video

Love to all.