my friend sandy
1994 - 2008
Created by Lili Zohar Perlman on 01/03/2008
I like so many have been shocked and devastated by the horrible news of the unspeakable loss of your dear Sandy, John and Chase. With lives lived so fully, so richly connected to family, neighborhood and community, their sudden departure leaves a gapping hole in the lives of so many. Yet the fullness of connection with which they all lived their lives leaves a tremendous warmth and inspiration in my heart. I know you all are aware of what fabulous human beings Sandy, Chase and John were. But when Eli died at the age of 8 in 2002, it brought me some comfort to hear stories about the people he touched that I didn’t know about until that telling. It is with that intention that I share these words with you.
For many years Sandy and I walked our dogs together around Cheeseman Park, and walked the kids to the bus stop when they attended Montessori. During these walks we pondered together concerns of parenting, domestic and political life, debated issues of the nature of reality large and small, from Kabbalah, challenges relating to life and death, to what to make for dinner for a small party I was planning. Sandy and I walked for the last time the Friday before Christmas, before we each went our own ways, ---her to Idaho and me to Mexico for a family reunion. We talked in anticipation of your Christmas in Boise, and all of your wonderful holiday traditions that you have created over the years. We talked about our dogs, where Henry and Katy are applying to college, the East High School’s Holiday choir concert at where Katy and Rosa sang together a few weeks earlier. Mundane stuff really, but the stuff and substance of life.
Sandy made valentines cards with Eli that February day, in 2002, two weeks before he died. At that time, I couldn’t bear the thought of Eli’s last return to his school and Sandy jumped in to help. She did this as she did so many things—graciously and without much ado. I could hear them laughing and making a mess in the living room—telling goofy stories about each classmate Eli was addressing. When Eli returned to school the last time on Valentines day, he did not mind so much that he was in a wheel chair and unable to hold his head high. He came to offer his classmates these small tokens of his love and Sandy’s hand had touched each offering. Earlier that year she made Christmas cookies for us to offer to people donating to the Children’s Fund in Afghanistan, when Eli had set up a neighborhood booth for that purpose. On a walk I had told her our neighborhood coffee shop was donating coffee and cocoa, and Sandy offered to make cookies with Rosa and Eli to sweeten the deal for those making contributions. They were the most creative and beautiful cookies I had ever seen!
A few years later we were walking in the park discussing what I should make for dinner for my extended family, before Rosa’s Bat Mitzvah party. During our walk Rosa called to tell me Dan had been in a bad bike accident and was heading to the hospital. Sandy without a second thought announced that she would take care of the dinner for 35. With only a few days’ notice, and again without a second thought, she made an entire gourmet dinner for my whole extended family the night of Rosa’s Bat Mitzvah so I could tend to Dan, who was still in the hospital. Sandy did these things not because I was her closest friend. Sandy jumped in whenever and wherever she could to offer herself and her gifts to the world. She offered us the use of her cabin, the use of her home for Rosa when Eli was sick, the benefit of her wisdom and experience on everything from travel plans to recipes.
Sandy created a home and family life that was so full. Chase and Katy had a childhood that seemed so packed with activities, while there was still so much time to hang out and be relaxed. I often urged Sandy to write a novel about the girls’ adventures—from the travails of Chase’s girls scout troop over more than a decade, to the amazing volunteer activities they all were involved in. I often thought it would be uplifting for the whole country and world to see family life in the late 20th and early 21st century could be so wholesome, so adventurous, so alive!!!!
Of course, with all the writing that she did, Sandy never did get to write her own novel, something we talked about from time to time. Yet as I grapple with that pain, I realize that she lived her story, with the fullness of all the highs and lows, joys and sorrows that life has to offer. In so doing, she affected so many, so profoundly with her practical common sense and matter of fact generosity. I am so honored and so grateful to be among those so touched.
From our many discussions walking in the park over the years I know that Sandy did not consider herself to be particularly spiritual or religious person, although she loved traditions of every ilk—
especially the ones your family created over the years of holidays and reunions. Yet, as I often told her, she lived her life with the generosity and fullness of heart that spiritual and religious people strive for in all their yearnings. She did this I believe, because of the love and support she received from her upbringing, the connection she felt to all life that pulsed around her, and her unique spirit that allowed for a split second willingness to dive in whenever energy or creativity was called for.
Sandy, John and Chase were so engaged in life politically, professionally, in the schools and neighborhoods where they lived. But to me it is really the small things that mark their greatness. Those acts of involvement and kindness of which I speak could be spoken of by hundreds of others—Friends, teachers, cousins, classmates, fellow workers of Chase, colleagues and comrades, friends, neighbors, employers and employees and committee members of Sandy’s and John’s. Looking back, the power of this level of connection to the small in life and the fullness with which they all lived is the inspiration that will live on in me and in the hearts of so many.
I offer you my prayers and my love, and most of all my heartfelt gratitude for bringing this beautiful being of Sandy into the world, for participating so fully in the lives of her and John, Chase and Katy and being the loving family that you are.
Katy, please know that you are so loved. You will come home to the embrace of a community that cares so deeply for you, that prays for your healing on every level, that welcomes you back, when ever you can return, will full and open arms.
With love and deepest sympathy,
Lili Zohar, mother of Henry, Rosa and Eli Perlman