Just like a Memory


Death gives us lots of reasons to think about life. When someone close to us leaves this world, memories of our interactions bubble to the surface.   Last night, after a long illness, our friend Letha passed away. She had been in hospice for over a month, so it wasn’t unexpected, but at the same time, you never expect it. This morning I kept having random memories of her.

She gravitated towards things that needed a little help. One time when she went on tour with her band she asked my girlfriend to watch her cat Rufus. Most people didn’t even know she had a cat, even if they went to visit her, because Rufus was deathly afraid of everyone and everything. For the first few days of the tour, we didn’t see Rufus at all. He’d found a spot in the closet to hide and he stayed hidden. We could see evidence that he’d eaten a little during the night. By the end of her two week tour, Rufus was actually coming out in our presence a little. Letha loved that cat. I hadn’t thought of that experience in a dozen years, but this morning I could see the cat peeking out of the closet.


Letha was often coming up with some art project idea. She spent days making little hand made books, and then she tried to sell them at St. Marks Bookshop for $15. They gave her half the money so she ended up making 25 cents and hour on that one. She loved figuring out how to make things though, she just wasn’t made for business. At one point she was making stuffed animals to sell at street fairs. Again, these were one of a kind objects that she figure out how to put together by trial and error.  They were ragged creatures, that looked like they came from the world of broken toys.  It took so much work to make them that it would have only been cost effective if she sold them for $150. I think she asked for $40 and gladly took $20. She just wanted to make things.

In the mid 90’s she worked closely with my wife’s sister Clare, and our good friend Joe Fiorentino on a sitcom called “Apartment 6”. Joe was a fireball of positive energy, and Letha was exploding with ideas. They gathered up a battalion of like-minded, creative friends and made something wholly unique. Joe passed away without warning almost 2 years ago. His death was hard on her, and so many others.

Just yesterday I saw a post that his wife wrote about dealing with grief and her children’s grief. At some point I’m going to have to learn to deal with mine. As Letha’s health declined and she moved inexorably towards her exit I thought a lot about the connections between this world and the other one. It didn’t seem surprising to me, or random, that the connection between Letha and Joe would bubble up just like a memory, as she made her exit.


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