Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

Leila’s Love for Life Was Not a Gift She Held But Rather a Gesture She Made

In blogging, Brooklyn days, family life, politics on October 15, 2009 at 5:52 pm

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.


A Second-Hand Admirer

In blogging, politics on October 13, 2009 at 9:08 pm

I am a friend of Leila’s Mom, Mary Edith, and I knew Leila almost entirely second-hand through the sort of conversations that Moms engage in, sharing thoughts and feelings about their grown kids.

Only in the past few days, since I learned of her passing, have I had a more direct emotional connection with Leila by reading her blogs. I have been so deeply moved by them that I found myself forwarding some excerpts to a dear friend of mine, a writer named Kenneth Ring, who is working on a book called Letters From Palestine, which presents the heartrending but often inspiring stories of Palestinians as they confront the challenges they must face in a world where being a Palestinian is a challenge in itself.

I sensed his heart would resonate particularly with Leila’s story about her father’s life. That was entirely accurate, so I am writing now to pass along his comments about Leila after reading it:

What a bright star this woman was — she must have lit up so many lives with her courage and beauty of soul. The story of her family’s life — its tragedies and horror, and the eventual hard-won success of her relatives — was also very inspiring. What an estimable and wonderful man her father was, and what an exemplary life he led. Leila’s homage to him was extremely moving — she was blessed to have such a father (and mother!), and to have so much of him inside her.

What a shame that such a woman had to die so young, leaving behind her children and her husband and no doubt a bereft mother, but it’s clear that she lived well until she died, that she knew how to live and how to die, and I have no doubt her life will continue to be celebrated even as her death is mourned. Thank you again for sharing this with me.

The Dove Has Flown

In blogging, politics on October 13, 2009 at 9:03 pm

I can’t even remember when Leila introduced herself to me through my blog, but the sense of her personality and life was such that we immediately connected. Over the years we’ve commiserated over political woes and personal setbacks, she’s introduced me to other friends who I will also likely never meet in person. But the feeling that there was someone important in the Bay area never failed. I still feel that she is here with us, just not so localised.

I will miss you greatly, Leila, and I’ll be looking for your books.

Maryanne Stroud Gabbani

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