dara gratitude, part 2

hi d.,

i know i did that whole list yesterday, but there’s more. especially after being with your beautiful peeps yesterday, hanging out by your favorite tree. what a good tree. so many branches, weeping-style. so much shade in summer, i bet.

i am grateful for:

1) pink bloque, the awesome political protest/street party/dance troupe you helped found. here’s what it was for those who didn’t see them in pink sweats dancing to a boom box: The Pink Bloque is a Chicago-based radical feminist dance troupe dedicated to challenging the white supremacist capitalist patriarchal empire, one street dance party at a time… We, like most girls, just wanna have fun. We want to innovate, educate, and gyrate. We want to create change — if not in the nation where we live, at least in the way we engage it. We came together out of a desire to make protest more appealing — visually, physically, emotionally, viscerally, etc.” yeah.

2) you knowing, mayan-calendar style, without knowing, when you would leave. there was a log you created for your meds–i was always amazed at how virgo you could be for a pisces–and yesterday was the last day in it.

3) you going out on a full moon. and, for maybe just a tad of humor–a full moon in cancer.

4) loren mentioned this: your dimples. they added to your cabbage-patch cuteness. which, of course belied your fierceness, which also belied your kind, kind heart.

5) the words most often used to describe you on your now-a-memorial facebook wall: fierce, wild, fearless, beautiful, brilliant, powerful. and the word most often sent to you: love. what a heart, my friend.

6) your dad telling me his favorite dara stories, yesterday, by the tree. this one i had heard before, but forgotten: you were five, on the floor of his studio, playing with some things, and people kept coming through to talk about the politics of the day, in this case, nixon and watergate. they huffed and puffed. then when they left, your dad asked you: “so, dara, what do you think of grown-ups?” and you, age five, said: “yes means no and no means yes.” indeed.

7) another story harvey told me, which i had also forgotten. while at oakwood, your junior year you were offered a spot at simon’s rock. full scholarship, the works. because, of course, you were an engaged smarty. when our haitian french teacher erick got wind of this, he called your dad and told him, “you can’t let her go. she is the only person offering what she does to the community. we need her.” i was super-glad you didn’t go. i got to be your roomie, and that was awesome fun. and it was true, what you gave that place: truth and fun.

8) your boobs. those triple-D dara’s were something. forget the pencil test, you could hold a skateboard, our cafeteria’s napkin holder, and most impressively, the AP Bio textbook. not all together, but one at a time, arms extended. i thought it was so cool when you had them reduced when you could, weight literally lifted off your chests and shoulders. and you wrote a fun piece for GURL.com, to boob.

9) you meeting brad. you approving brad.

10) your sister telling me about a great line you dropped last week, as they were arranging and rearranging a mountain of pillows to keep you comfy: “it takes a village of pillows to prop a dara.”

11) giving a speech about you last night at toastmasters. i had signed up for it a month ago and they frown upon blowing off speeches, so i turned my yoga speech into a dara speech. i talked about how the principles i learned at my yoga teacher training at kripalu helped me be with you when it was hard toward the end. when my mind wanted to scream and cry or check out, but what seemed needed was simple presence. BRFWA: breathe, relax, feel, watch, allow. i think no one really knew what to do with it there, but a couple of people did maybe, and it felt good to share just a sliver of your essence with strangers.

12) getting to experience grief. i was just writing in an email this morning that i’m not sure what’s causing this great surge of agitation in me that feels so visceral. option a) when someone you truly love dies, they take a part of you with them and this is actually physically uncomfortable, painful. b) i am trying to hold on to either that piece or you, instead of doing what i should be doing, which is letting you/it go with both hands. i want you here, selfishly. i feel greedy for your presence, your listening, your you-ness. but i have this feeling that if i were really tuned into the reality of what’s happening, i would feel mostly pure joy. because you, my new awesome angel, are free. you are free of a body that was in the way of croissants and coffee and walks in the park and riding your bike and giving speeches and curating art shows and doing protest dances and making videos and listening to friends and making puns and traveling and all. now what happens i don’t know. but maybe it’s true, as your friend ryder said on the list-serve:

“Dara asked me how she could find power in this time. We talked about
how, when we die, there is so much energy leaving our bodies and going
into the world (and beyond) and we can give it intention and
direction, and that is the magic. It’s beautiful, powerful and
mysterious, so this is a special time, for Dara and all of us.

Dara is going to send a lot of energy out into the world, and i want
us all to be ready to receive it, individually and collectively, and
to do amazing things with it, because Dara has so much energy and


I’m sharing this since we are all in this (world) together, and it’s
easy to feel disconnected via struggle.

When Dara dies, i am dying with her, and i invite others to join us,
because i know Dara loves to be with her friends. I invite all of us
to go with her on her journey, and to support her in her passage, and
carry her through, as she has done for us, in life.

Dara is eternal. We will not leave Dara, and she will not leave us.
Let us honor this magical time of TRANSFORMATION. Let us be energized,
inspired, connected and empowered by dara!”

i’m hoping to hopes that that and more goodness is true.

13) da love. da outpouring from everyone.

14) your dad saying, “i have been dara’s father for a very long time.” that’s how i feel about you too. that i have been your friend a very long time–even though we’ve drifted in and out at times, i have that eternal feeling when i look into your eyes too. which reminds me that there is an eternal. which makes the deepest part of my soul very happy with met longing. thanks, d. love.

Valerie Reissdara gratitude, part 2