Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Eulogy For Verna

Delivered today at Verna's funeral:

There may only be three good things about this nightmare. One, Verna is no longer suffering or in pain. Two, I get to be surrounded by the love of family and friends. And, three, I get to say whatever I want for the next few weeks and most of you will let it go.

I do want to acknowledge three service providers whose amazing care helped sustain us these past several weeks. Hospice by the Bay, which tended to Verna and our family with such love and dedication. Jewish Family and Children’s Services of Marin for their wonderful caregivers and support. And the Living and Dying Project out of West Marin for spiritual support and comfort for Verna and me.

There are loads of people I could also mention, but I want to focus on Miguel and Maya. Miguel and Maya, Mommy did not want to die, Mommy did not want to leave us. She fought as hard as anyone to stay alive for as long as possible. But she died. She died because of cancer, an evil, evil disease that all of us must work to eliminate in quite possibly our lifetimes. She did not die because she wanted to, or because she didn’t pray hard enough, or because she didn’t think positively enough. She did not die because she gave up. She died because her breast cancer was stronger and it killed her. But the breast cancer did not crush her spirit and could never erase our memories of her.

Mommy was so brave and so amazing during her entire ordeal. I truly hope that during your lifetimes, Miguel and Maya, when you are faced with adversity or other hard times, whatever those instances may be—having to speak before people, going to a new school, applying for a job, dealing with a break-up, playing sports or participating in ballet—that you will remember Mommy and how she never, ever stopped living as she fought her cancer. How brave she was and how hard she tried to be there for you and me even when she was in such pain and so scared about her future.

I also want you both to remember what Mommy said to you when she said goodbye a week before she died. Mommy said, “Be passionate.” That means find things to do in life that you love and enjoy and pursue them, do them. Being passionate about life can bring you much happiness.

Another important thing Mommy said was, “Be good. Do the right thing. Treat others the way you want to be treated.” You both know what this means, the difference between right and wrong. Let Mommy’s voice be the voice inside you that gently reminds you, when you are faced with a choice, to do what is right. I, of course, will be there as well to guide you, nag, er, prod, er, lead you to the path of goodness and kindness. But I don’t think I will have that much work to do. Both of you, Miguel and Maya, are kind and sweet people. Mommy and I are so proud of you, and we always will be.

Miguel and Maya, Mommy will always, always love you. She loved being your Mommy more than anything. Miguel, before you were born, Mommy read more than 20 books to prepare us for becoming parents. She used to get mad at me because I didn’t read as many as her, but that was Mommy: super, super organized. She was ecstatic, Miguel, that you were and are our firstborn. Maya, you came to us when Mommy was already sick with cancer, but having you, our daughter, helped Mommy feel so much better and gave her a reason to put her energy into healing and dealing with her sickness.

Miguel and Maya, you are here on this planet because Mommy and I love each other so, so much. You are alive as an expression of the love Mommy and I shared and will share forever. Mommy may be a star in heaven, but she will always, always love you, and be proud of you. And Mommy will always be with us. As long as we remember Mommy in our hearts, she will never go away. We keep her alive by remembering her and honoring her memory.

Miguel and Maya, Mommy will always love you, and I will always love you. I am not going anywhere. I am here for you, and I am supremely blessed to be your father. Being your father brings me happiness and joy every single day. I love you so, so much.

Verna, I am eternally yours. This is not goodbye. I love you.


  1. what a wonderful eulogy for the children. i remember miguel. i am so sorry the kids have lost their mom and that you steven has lost your wife, partner.