By Sierra Stoneman-Bell, Forever Friend
August 2nd, 2014
I want to first thank the Freeman and Larsen families for allowing me to help honor our beloved Abby. It’s a blessing to be here together in this place of community with so much love for Abby — it was here in this church community where she and I got to be friends through Monday night youth choir practice and the annual musical productions.
Abby was one of the truest people I ever knew and one of my best friends. She was always a strong spirit. I still feel her so present. I can see her face clearly in my mind, looking at me so intently and engaged in that way she did.
It is inexplicably devastating to lose her so early. But wow did her light burn strong and true. Abby lived with intensity and passion – she engaged and connected so genuinely and brought so much love, intelligence, and kindness to all of us.
She wasn’t just amazingly beautiful, strong and talented. She was whip smart, forever generous and always had a mind of her own. She had charisma and guts, and had deep integrity on every level – with her family and friends, and as an artist. I remember her standing up for what she knew was right even as a young person. She was kind and playful and cared about people and the world.
Abby was irresistible, hard not to fall in love with her the minute you met her. She had an energy that was contagious, a smile you wished you could swim in, and intention and precision that she applied to all things. She had a way with people – she invited you in and made you feel special. You could talk about anything with her. She had a full range of talents that she used to build an amazing life – rich with people she loved, and projects that pushed the edge and expanded what was possible.
I got to watch her grow into herself as an artist. So many rehearsals and great performances at this church and in high school when we were young. There was always something special about her. She had talent and dreams AND the discipline to make them real. She had a drive to get things right and the courage to push boundaries. She was organized and committed to each decision – whether packing a lunch or scaling a wall. It was amazing to see her go after a big life. She first headed for the big apple, where I followed and ended up renting an apt in the same Queens neighborhood. I was always inspired by her tenacity and grace. It wasn’t a fairy tale – it took hard work and persistence. She fought for it and she totally did it. She had adventures all over the world and created fantastic shows that we never could have even imagined growing up.
And she found Merlin on that path – you were her dreamboat from the beginning. And your love seemed to get stronger with time. The partnership you built on so many levels – from the most intimate connection to being creative business partners to being harnessed to a building in front of a crowd. And Owen and Julia your joint heart and soul. Everyone knew that what you had together was a special love, and that will always be true.
Abby had a rare capacity to imagine and fly and always land with her feet on the ground. She embodied the magical and also planted herself firmly in this life. She was rooted with her family and friends and Merlin, creating a wonderful loving home and life for their children. She was an incredible mom and teacher – offering a perfect balance of loving direction and freedom to explore and be themselves. No doubt this was a reflection of the gifts of her own family – thank you Isabel, Jack, Cynthia, and Dan for being by her side and loving her so well.
Maybe less known about Abby was her deep internal life. She had an introverted side, an inner strength and grace – deeply reflective, imaginative, vulnerable in places, she could burn through any book in a day.
One of the clearest memories I have with her is a 10 day road trip we took together 11 years ago, just the two of us. I remember racing behind her on the hiking trails to keep up with her, sitting by a swimming hole in majestic Yosemite listening to her hopes for her relationship with Merlin, talking for hours about the challenges and questions of adult life, singing together to the radio in the car, sleeping in a little tent each with a cooking pot above our head for when the bears came around again. I feel so grateful that I got to share life with her for almost 30 years.
My last visit with her in April was heartbreaking and special. She was suffering and scared but still so present, caring deeply for those around her and fighting for her life. She was wise and beautiful as always.
Sometimes I don’t know how we go on without her. It seems so unfair. But she would want us to live and be happy and connected and open-hearted. So that’s what we do. We let the tears be a salve and let our hearts swell as we celebrate all that Abby was and the wonderful imprint she left on all of us. We carry her with us in every step, and we honor her by living as fully as she did.
We love you Abby – fly free and know you lived well. We will take care of each other. You will always be a part of us, as we lift our heads and hearts to the sky.