That is what Dorothy said in the beginning of the Wizard of Oz and she was not only spot on but also a star. People do, we do, come and go quickly here. Today is the anniversary of my youngest sister Amy’s death. I write about her life and who she was a lot, but not much about her death. It was just a small part of her, just an exit, however impactful. Her exit does not define her. I don’t believe we define ourselves by what we do or what we say but by our relationship to others. People don’t even remember what you do or say I find, but they remember how you made them feel. That doesn’t mean what we do or say isn’t important, it is, but it is only a reflection of our values, skills, and intent… all good things but not however, who we are. Who we are is our connection, our touch, our love and how we move through the world. It is the alchemy of us and who we bump up against at any given moment.
Amy’s legacy is vast from her hilarious writings, to the pictures of her dressed as a storm trooper with a chemo head at a hospital visiting sick kids, to the students she listened to and helped understand something in her 8th grade English class, to the sneakers she left on the Fire Island Ferry that got her and my other sister, Chris, busted for playing hooky, to her Pomeranian attitude and razor wit not to mention all the people who are forever changed in a deeply profound way just because they knew her.
Amy had a way of looking at the world like no other person I have met; she had a certain brilliant off-center wisdom. Once when asked if she would date someone with a tattoo she said, “No, because if we were in a plane crash and I had to eat him, he would taste terrible.” Another time she was asked if world peace was possible. “Sure, but not with people on the planet” she shot back. I remember one afternoon on a walk after I had a particularly horrible failed relationship she imparted “what did you expect from him? It’s like trying to teach a dog a card trick. ” Her view on fear, which is flawless in my eyes: “There are topics that are difficult, but I’ve unwound the mysteries about them so they aren’t so scary anymore. It’s like dragging a fear from the closet to the front seat and telling it to sit down and shut the fuck up. Generally it does and it’s not so scary in the light.” Just brill, raw, funny and true to the bone of who she was and is in my heart and memories. Those vignettes we shared define us both. And I do mean vignettes; there is a reason why the word quick is in the title. Not only are we here and gone but it is done in a blink of an eye.
I took a trip to LA recently and had the pleasure of watching a recording of a brilliant dance performance featuring a good friend. She was with three other wonderful dancers and the piece was so moving it brought me to tears. One of the other women in the performance was once a dancer with Martha Graham; she was graceful, full of emotion and stillness. She used her body in a way that gave me a view into how we make connection by distilling emotion and circumstance into movement. It was stunning. Her body communicated in incredibly profound ways. I am sorry to say I just heard she is gone. Her beautiful body in which she spoke so eloquently is no longer. However her legacy of who she was is still here and strong for those who knew, loved and worked with her. Her connections with them are very much alive and real. Our connection to others is indeed what defines all of us despite our exit strategy.
So yes people do come and go quickly here, that is the nature of this platform. So while they are here and you can touch them pull them close and do so, often. Listen and look at them when they speak to you, be thoughtful of them when they are near. Enjoy the sound of their voice when they laugh, snort, snore, or sigh. You are gathering and sharing what matters, what defines the wonder of what we are. And when they go celebrate the connection between you, the love, learning and crazy because that is what makes us sparkle.