The Eulogy of
by Marilyn Price
We are all gathered
here today to honor the memory of Arlene - my best friend - and the best friend
of so many others here today. Rather than mourn, let's celebrate her life -
Arlene would have wanted it that way. Arlene is the most beautiful person I
have ever known - both inside and out. When I think of Arlene I think of sunshine.
Arlene was always
smiling - always looking to see the best in everyone and everything. She left
a mark on every life she touched, and although she is not here physically, her
spirit and lust for life lives on in all of you who knew her, and especially
those who were lucky enough - as I was - to be loved by Arlene.
I spent many hours
struggling to find the words to say today - A task made more difficult without
the aid of my trusted (and only) editor - Arlene.
I can remember
the day that I first met Arlene - in September, 1970 - the beginning of our
freshman year at Cornell. We bonded immediately and roomed together sophomore
year. We had fun - memories such as driving back to Ithaca from Syracuse after
picking up Kenny (who had flown in from boot camp in Mo. sporting a crew cut)
as they made out in the backseat; the arduous task of keeping track of cousin
Ava during her weekend visit; our midnight trips to Collegetown for snacks dressed
in our nightgowns covered by raincoats; frat parties, and especially how very
slow Arlene ate (and how we picked straws to determine who would stay with Arlene
while she finished her dinner). When I think of Cornell, it is the years spent
with Arlene - with her shag haircut, hiphugger bellbottom jeans and leotards
- which are my fondest memories.
During our 31 years
of friendship we never had a disagreement. I would love to take credit for this
great accomplishment, but the credit is definitely Arlene's. She was just so
incredibly understanding and loving. How many people could laugh and be accepting
of my sole decision to rearrange the furniture in our dorm room. Knowing that
someone as special as Arlene could love me so much, made be feel special. Although
Arlene left Cornell after our sophomore year to marry Kenny, our relationship
was cemented - sisters for life.
Arlene was the
first of my friends to be married. She was so radiant and happy on that day
in January, 1973 when she married Kenny at the Sephardic Temple in Cedarhurst
- a day fresh in my mind after viewing the wedding film last week in their home.
Arlene and Kenny's wedding was so beautiful, that when I married Michael two
years later, it was at the Sephardic Temple with the same florist - with Arlene
as our matron of honor.
I remember Arlene
and Kenny's first home - an apartment on Yellowstone Boulevard in Forest Hills.
I was honored that she hung a painting I had made for them in that apartment,
and privileged to be one of the few to be allowed into their bedroom - which
was always a mess!
We had our first
babies - Wayne and Dayna - together - the first of our friends to embark on
motherhood. In those days we were inseperable. We were stay at home moms - spending
many hours at our kitchen tables, in our basements and in our backyards. We
shared friends. We had weekend barbecues. We took the kids to the Bronx zoo.
We had lots of fun.
Arlene had the
best taste - I copied her kitchen wallpaper; hired her decorator, and could
always count on Arlene to give my sons their best outfits as birthday gifts
- she always loved shopping for my boys as she only had girls. And I loved shopping
for her girls.
When I needed help
planning a 40th b-day party for Michael on a small budget - Arlene offered me
her home, found a terrific, inexpensive take-out caterer and helped me host
a beautiful party.
Michael and I have
always considered Kenny and Arlene family and they are godmother and godfather
to our son Jordan. Through the years we shared many typical "family"
holidays. One of those holidays was Passover not too long ago. Our family Passover
dinner was canceled right before Passover, and even though I knew Arlene had
a "full house", Arlene was thrilled when I told her that we were coming
to her seder. I offered to help arrange the tables and chairs so everyone would
fit, and the night before the seder, Arlene and I were together until 2 a.m.
setting up the tables and chairs, placing flowers in the vases, talking and
In typical Arlene
fashion, on the day of seder I received a frantic call from Arlene saying that
she was stuck on the East Side Drive in terrible traffic and that she needed
help putting the seder together. I immediately left my office, and by phone,
Arlene instructed me as to where to pick- up the food, and after arriving at
her house - which plates, glasses, silverware, napkins and napkin rings to use
to set the table. Emily was my helper, and by the time Arlene arrived home,
all was done. I will always cherish the memories of that Passover.
food - especially certain snacks. It was Arlene who introduced me to Krispy
Kreme donuts. After attending a Billy Joel concert at Madison Square Garden,
Arlene said that she needed a snack and told me about fantastic donuts she ate
at her office which you could only buy in the city. I was traveling in Arlene's
car with my son, Wayne, Dayna and Dayna's friend. Wayne, who also worked in
the city, chimed in that he also thought Krispy Kremes were great. Arlene threw
her cell phone to Wayne and told him to find the nearest location. We were heading
uptown, but when Wayne called the upper east side location, he was told they
were closing. He said "oh no, my aunt is having a Krispy Kreme Krisis (with
a K)" - He was then directed to the downtown location which was still open.
Arlene made a quick u-turn and we found the open store and bought donuts.
Even though Arlene
and I saw each other less frequently after entering the work world, we spoke
frequently. We always discussed our families but we also commiserated about
the difficulties of being women "of authority" in a man's world -
and how difficult it was to be accepted by the men into their inner circle.
I last spoke to
Arlene less than 12 hours before the disaster. She called me from her car on
her way home from work and said to me (as we hadn't spoken in a while) "Marilyn,
I miss you - where have you been?" I will never forget that conversation.
We caught up. She told me how much she loved Eric and how great Dayna and Eric's
new apartment was. She told me that Dayna had just started classes at Columbia;
and how excited she was that Allison had decided to follow her footsteps into
law. She was so very happy that Emily was working hard in school this year.
We made plans to get together the following weekend, and my last words to Arlene
were "I love you and I miss you too".
When I lost my
father a month before my son Wayne was born, the following words of William
Wordsworth, repeated in the movie Splendour in the Grass, helped ease my grieving:
What though the
radiance which was once so bright
Be now for ever taken from my sight,
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find Strength in what remains behind;
It has been almost three weeks since the horrific tragedy that tore Arlene from
our lives. Fear and hope turned to total despair, tears and sobbing - making
it very difficult for me to find the strength to return to work and deal with
simple questions and tasks posed daily by my clients - which now seemed so trival.
I had to find a way to return to some semblance of normalcy, but how. It didn't
seem possible. But every day became a little easier than the last as I repeated
the words of William Wordsworth and applied the life lessons learned from Arlene
during our long friendship - to look for the best in everyone; to see the bright
side in every situation; to live life fully.
But where was the
best in people who didn't understand what I was feeling and how could there
be any brightness in the black hole of despair which I was living in. I pondered
this question until I found the answer which gave me the strength to carry on.
The answer is that Arlene lives on in everyone whose life she touched. She taught
us all what is important - to live life and to love each other. Let's celebrate
her life and not mourn - as this is what she would want us to do. Arl - I will
always miss you....I love you.