I am Leila’s friend from her Brooklyn days in the 1980’s. Her first husband was my husband’s childhood friend. Through that acquaintance, Leila and I forged a friendship based on a certain tendency towards emotional heat, a similar quest to define ourselves as young artists (she, a writer and me, an actress), and a shared vision that life itself was a confusing, astonishing, magnificent journey. We lost contact when I became a young mother and moved to Connecticut and Leila moved west to seek a new life and study in her chosen field.
When I knew her then, Leila was (as you may imagine) all she was in recent years – beautiful, exuberant, vibrant, inquisitive, generous, engaged, and intelligent – but she navigated her days with an edge of anger and confusion that she assiduously worked to shed as she matured into her marriage to David and her motherhood of Joseph and Jacob.
She and I reconnected two years ago when she saw a comment I’d written on DailyKos, a political website, and she contacted me. We picked up our relationship where we’d left off. I was delighted to have Leila back in my life again. Her friendship with me made me feel like a rich woman! I was moved to read of her life with her family and how happy, secure, and privileged she felt to be where she was now, notwithstanding her cancer and all the vicissitudes of her treatment. Simply, she exuded love in what she wrote to me.
Leila’s love for life was not a gift she held but rather a gesture she made, an action she took; a home she built for herself, her family, and her friends – for all of us. She embraced us all, and carried us with her into the face of whatever storm or joy life might fling up for us. Whatever it was, we were there in it, together. Leila embraced even her illness, facing it as she did everything – by looking it squarely in the face, holding it close, and standing tall. She was so strong, with her open heart and hungry mind.
I will miss her lion’s heart.
My deep condolences to David and their sons, Jacob and Joseph. She was proudest of the life and love that she shared with you. It was her greatest achievement. You are her deepest love.