Remembering Abby

By Cynthia Freeman, Sister

June 7, 2015

[This piece was read by Cynthia at the West Coast remembrance held AtTheBraid in Los Angeles]

How you spend your days is how you spend your life.

Here are some of the ways Abby and I spent our days together: as kids, talking while playing and talking while fighting and talking in between singing in choir and being in plays and musicals and visiting our grandparents and occasionally paying attention to the cute little brother who eventually appeared on the scene.

As teenagers, talking while hardly ever fighting, reading, talking about what we were reading, talking about hopes and dreams and plans.

As young adults, getting lost while driving together because we were talking, sharing an apartment in New York and talking, writing and faxing each other when we lived in different countries – this was the time before email – and talking.

As young moms, walking a block to see each other in Echo Park to talk, and taking our kids to playgrounds and museums so they could just go play and let us talk. We talked in Beijing, in Austria, in Yosemite, in Joshua Tree.

And we listened, too, through all of that talking. Being vulnerable and open with each other, everyday barriers and protective walls down. And our eyes met, across rooms, over the heads of children, across tables, side by side at performances, nearby at parties – and we each knew exactly what the other was thinking. We were known. Understood; in joyful moments and hard moments and complicated moments.

When you talked with Abby she brought out your best self, held you to a standard above sniping and snarking – she could always see and empathize with the person or concept I’d be so heartlessly judging. She was about 10 steps ahead interpersonally at all times. You’d go on a family trip together and she’d bust out arts and crafts activities for the kids (and the grownups). When we went to visit her at NYU in college she would have bought a whole bunch of subway tokens in advance to make it easier for everyone. She did not love to cook but always made sure that the food situation was planned in advance.

She found change stressful but didn’t let that prevent her from the gig lifestyle so she could create and perform. She was an introvert and is one of the few performers I’ve ever met who hated being the center of attention in her personal life. She was physically strong, and brave and adventurous even when she was scared.

She also liked things to be cozy and pretty – she called it “shnookiness” – curtains and throw pillows in our apartment in New York, planting petunias out front when she and Merlin lived off the grid in a cabin he built himself. I think she may even have decorated the mouse traps in that one.


How you spend your life is how you live your death.

Here are some of the ways we spent Abby’s last months together: talking, taking walks and talking, sharing meals our husbands cooked and talking, reading books, and talking about books, and talking about the staggering amounts of support and help and occasional wackiness that were coming from so many people from so many realms of her life, past and present.

And when she couldn’t take walks anymore we’d sit in her living room or backyard or hospital room talking, and reading, and talking about what we were reading. And talking about how to help her family after she died and how sad she was to be leaving them and all the rest of us, and talking about how she regretted that she would not be able to help Dan and me take care of our parents when they get old.

And also, about lighter stuff, you can’t be in the heavy place all the time, and one of the many burdens of illness for her was having to be in the center of attention constantly, which she disliked even when she was well.

And when she couldn’t talk so much anymore because it made her cough, I would read aloud to her, at first new books we hadn’t read before, and then our old favorites, the books we read over and over as teenagers, about intrepid girl heroines who go on quests and save the kingdom and fall in love and have talking animals for pets.

And I would clean up the ever-accumulating detritus of the sick room and make it as shnooky as I could, and she would smile and give me the look that meant she noticed and appreciated it. And when it was hard for Abby to get out of bed and she was starting to feel ready to go, in the sense that this level of immobility and suffering and inability to do the basic tasks of caring for her family was not enough of a life, I realized that it would be more than enough for the rest of us, if all she could do was lie in a bed and talk, and listen, because she was still always 10 steps ahead of you, and she could always make you feel heard and understood and loved.

I dream of Abby now and then. It’s a great gift and comfort to me. Sometimes the dreams are set before she was sick, in the world before her death even seemed possible. Sometimes she’s already ill, I can tell by her short hair. A few months after Abby died I had my first dream of her. We were in my house in Sunnyside, Queens, and it was August, but she was there, with long hair, to perform in a show in New York.

In the dream I grabbed her hands and looked into her eyes and said “But Abby, do you know that you died? On June first.” And she said “I know. I know.” And then she hugged me and we cried and we smiled and it was unexplained and also undeniable that she was there.

Like most people here, I want to live to a ripe old age and not suffer before I die. But I don’t want to die in my sleep. I want a short illness first, nothing too painful, but I want to be awake for it. Because in the booklet the hospice people give you about what happens when someone is dying in front of you, they write about this thing that often occurs: when you get to the border of the shadowlands, your death just a few hours or maybe a day away, it’s not uncommon to see loved ones who have died before you. They wave, they hold out their arms, they beckon you across. So that’s what I want at the end – a chance to see Abby one more time. Maybe we’ll even talk a little.

Our Sol

By Dan Freeman, Brother

August 2nd, 2014

Good afternoon. I want to start by thanking all of the speakers and performers; our MC and dear friend Dorothy; you, our family and friends; the Unitarian Church; and especially Jillian Kohl, without whom this gathering would’ve been beyond our ability to assemble. In addition, I want to extend our gratitude to the many people who could not make it but sent their condolences, memories, photographs, and support from all corners of the world. We have been astounded by this outpouring of love, and it is a tonic to our broken hearts to know how many people Abby touched and inspired.

My sisters, my idols

Abby was an anxious child, afraid of dogs and ‘piders, and would be terrified to return to school each fall for fear that she couldn’t do the work or would no longer fit in socially. She kept a roll of masking tape by her bed, and would stick it against her face when she went to sleep because it felt like kisses.

Growing up, I thought the two most perfect women in the world were my sisters Cynthia and Abigail. While each of them was very distinct, they each exuded heaps of intelligence, ambition, beauty, kindness, and sass. In many ways, they set the bar to which I measure up the loves in my own life – perhaps that’s why I’m still single.

Never one for the performance classes that my sisters, and especially Abby, excelled in, I nonetheless lived a vicariously dramatic life through Abby’s success in high school plays; her forays into weird off-off-off Broadway performances in New York; her hard-won and career-defining casting in De La Guarda; her travels to strange and foreign places such as Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Beijing, Bregenz and… Orange County.

To live through another person is one thing, but I think many of those closest to her can understand the feeling of wanting to in some way actually “be” Abby. In the fall of 2002, while I was a student living in Japan, I went to visit Abby in Seoul, South Korea, where she and Merlin and some other folks in this room were on tour. As luck would have it, I would be there for Halloween, which, being such a quintessentially American holiday, is a special experience when living abroad. I didn’t have a costume, so Abby took me to the Namdaemun shopping district to look for something suitable. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find anything either in my size or that seemed appropriate. Then we spotted a long blond wig, and we had an idea. I would don Abby’s outfit from the show – bright red jacket, blue miniskirt, eyeshadow, lipstick, and all – as my costume. The blond wig completed the picture. That night, I was the rockstar performer Abby Freeman, madly flying and singing around Korea’s capital late into the night with the rest of her band of merry pranksters. It was a night I – and quite possibly the residents of Seoul, sleep interrupted by bizarre costumed foreigners, some in drag – will never forget.

Center of our solar system

In the solar system of my family, Abby was the sun. Her gravitational pull kept us all orbiting happily along: the planets of parents, siblings, spouse, children and closest friends. The moons of nephew, niece, grandparents, and cousins. The asteroid belt of friends, colleagues, and acquaintances.

To know and to be loved by Abby was to have some sense that all was right with the universe. Any moment spent with her was one filled with warmth and light, and even when we were separated by distance or time, her energy in photographs, letters, phone calls and e-mails was a reassuring force. She was someone we all felt lucky to know.

Now that she’s gone, we are left adrift in space. There is an imbalance at work. The light is a bit dimmer and the breeze a bit colder.

But the laws of physics tell us that energy is neither created nor destroyed – it only changes form. Abby, your spirit is still among us, your energy is something that we will just have to relearn how to recognize. We will find a new balance by each doing our part to honor the space created in your physical absence.

An inspiration to live fully

One small solace that we’ve had is our knowledge that Abby lived an incredible life in her short 37 years. She told us herself, even in the face of the abyss, that she did not have a bucket list. She danced, she learned, she traveled, she loved, she embraced joy, and shouldered sadness and depression. Despite her anxieties and the challenges she faced, she succeeded at achieving her dreams, and she did so with grace and composure.

One reflection on this life-well-lived is that there could have been so much more of it. Indeed we’d all become so accustomed to Abby’s feats of personal strength and perseverance of character that we believed cancer would be just one more demon she would slay. We all couldn’t wait to see what she’d do next.

But what’s been made clear is that there might not be a “next” and that love is a hostage to misfortune. Let her life and death be a reminder that all our time is limited and not to be wasted. Fill it with good people, with personal development, with love and with caring, with eyes looking forward and not back, yet leaving enough quiet space for reflection. Fill it with soul. Like Abby, let us not be afraid to examine the depths of our hearts and to be guided by them.

Our eternal promise

In our last few weeks together, we reassured Abby that she was loved and was not to blame for her condition. We talked to her, sang to her, recited poems, cuddled and read to her from her favorite books and the many comments and memories you and others sent.

She was our daughter, sister, wife, mother, and best of friends. She remains our shining star, and we promised her that her soul could fly off into the next world free of worry or regret.

I want to reiterate those promises here today:

Abby, you were and always will be loved dearly and truly.

We will live a full life, with our heads held high in honor of your grace.

We will make you proud by challenging ourselves to overcome anxieties and self-doubt.

We will bask in the light of your smile by being true, by being happy, by finding love.

We will reflect the warmth you exuded through caring and compassion for those near and far.

Your husband is my brother; for him I will always be “on belay.”

We will cradle your little family in love and care; don’t you worry one bit.

Abby Love

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.

A Cherished Friendship Through Decades and Coasts

By Julie Katz, Forever Friend

August 2nd, 2014

I met Abby in 6th grade, on the first day of middle school. We went to different elementary schools but I had heard of Abby Freeman. She was a legend, even in elementary school. I still remember how cool she was on the first day of 6th grade. She was chewing gum. She had a confidence and a coolness that I had never seen before.

We were in different social circles in 6th and 7th grade. It was in 8th grade that we became good friends. We were paired as lab partners in Ms. Sefarian’s 8th grade science class. Abby and I were both initially skeptical of each other. I thought she was too cool for school and definitely to cool to talk to me and she thought I was too much of a nerd and a teacher’s pet to be a suitable or fun lab partner. But we realized quickly that we had misconceptions of each other. Instead, we were instant friends. We had a very fast and wonderful connection and wound up getting into trouble multiple times with Ms. Sefarian for talking to each other during class. That was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Abby and my friendship was so multi-layered and spanned more than 25 years. We were close friends in high school – she excelled in theater and I was involved in music so our interests overlapped. In high school and especially in college, we always had adventures together. We would stay up all night partying at Harvard, when she would visit me in college, and at NYC, when I would visit her. We vetted each others’ boyfriends (including Merlin) and partied with each others’ friends.

One of my very favorite memories of Abby took place the night before my wedding. Abby and Merlin walked into the party, lighting up the room, as always. As Abby and I embraced, she immediately said into my ear, “I’m pregnant” (with Owen). She was wearing a big magenta flower in her hair and she was absolutely glowing, like neon. I couldn’t have imagined a better wedding present.

As luck had it, we both wound up moving to CA. She moved to LA and I moved to the Bay Area around the same time. We got to see each often because I came to LA frequently to visit family. She and Julia also came to visit me and my daughter – a mother/daughter visit my daughter and I will always cherish.

Abby and I got married during the same summer and we had kids very close together. We continued to share so much – a deep friendship, related on so many commonalities – marriage, motherhood, and California.

Unfortunately, Abby and I also shared a diagnosis of breast cancer. I was diagnosed in April 2012, almost exactly a year before Abby was. After a year of treatment, I remain fortunate to be cancer-free and healthy. Abby and I had two very different diseases. I was very fortunate that the tumor was caught early, was not aggressive and my outcome was very good. Abby’s disease was relentless, chemo-resistant and very aggressive. It broke my heart when Abby told me of her diagnosis and that her case would not be as treatable as mine.

I also remember thinking, right when she told me of her diagnosis, that no one more than I was going to be able to relate to her experience and to be there for her like I was. This was the only silver lining of just having lived through breast cancer treatment myself. It was a gift that I could and would be there for my dear friend in any way I could.

We spent a lot of time together this past year. She was a focus of my life. We texted almost every single day and visited often. Through her brave battle and suffering, Abby was the same wonderful person, mother, wife and friend that I’d known for all these years. She was so present, so kind, so insightful, so spiritual, imaginative, creative, thoughtful, patient, beautiful, and loving. Everything she always was.

I’d like to end with a quote by David Harkins, a 20th century British poet and painter. I chose it because I think it embodies Abby’s eternal spirit.

“You can shed tears that she is gone,

Or you can smile because she has lived.

You can close your eyes and pray that she’ll come back,

Or you can open your eyes and see all she’s left.

Your heart can be empty because you can’t see her,

Or you can be full of the love you shared.

You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday,

Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.

You can remember her only that she is gone,

Or you can cherish her memory and let it live on.

You can cry and close your mind,

Be empty and turn your back,

Or you can do what she’d want:

Smile, open your eyes, love and go on.”

Thank you.

Looking Up

By Miles Jackson, Cousin

August 2nd, 2014

For those of you who don’t know me, I am Abby’s youngest cousin. And she is truly my greatest hero. It matters to me very much that I say that in the present tense. Abby is so cool. All three of our cousins were always so cool. All my brother Dylan and I wanted growing up was to be as cool as them. Danny playing Sega with us was mindblowing, Cynthia having me at her office for Indian food made me feel as “badass” as a small suburban white child can, and Abby coming to my elementary school class to do theater games felt like I was allowing these seven-year-old peasants exclusive access to a celebrity. Because that’s what she was to me.

And what she remains to me. Even when I was a teenager, I would get awkwardly nervous and shy around Abby. I don’t think I would’ve acted much differently around Meryl Streep or Jessica Lange. Abby was and is everything I ever wanted to be. People go on about Abby’s physical beauty, but to me that’s entirely accidental. She was an amazing human being, an amazing performer, an amazing daughter, sister, partner, mother, friend — her beautiful smile just happened to reflect all of that.

As most of you know, having had or taken care of small children, they get sort of senseless but endearing fixations — rocks, dinosaurs, etc. Abby was dinosaurs for me. We would make pacts every Christmas Eve to wake up before everyone else to open stockings together. But I always woke up easily, like, three hours before her — in hindsight far more excited for Abby than Santa. I became a faithful Ani DiFranco fan from far-too-young an age because she gave me her albums, and if Abby did it — I had to do it.

I would always say since childhood that I was going to go to NYU. Once again, in hindsight, there could have definitely been better fits for me, I honestly had no idea what I was doing — but I didn’t dare consider anywhere else, because Abby didn’t go there. It was only more poetic that we were not only in the same school, but that I was placed in the exact same program as she at the Stella Adler Studio of Acting. A program that we both had problems with, including one teacher in common who gave us both a particularly hard time. I’m damn proud that whatever his problem was seemed to run in the family.

Of the various rent-jobs that Abby took on to support herself as a young artist, I am pretty sure she escaped nannying. I have not been so lucky — but I have learned a lot as a “manny” — the very manly version of a nanny. The six-year-old boy I take care of, Toby, will see a cute dog on the street and say he wants to marry it. I have also occasionally made his list of people he wants to marry — before kids understand the actual implications, that is what they understand to be the highest expression of love and admiration for someone.

The day we lost Abby, through tears that soon were peppered with laughter I admitted to my parents that as a little boy I was sure that Abby and I would get married. I had never told anyone that, because…obviously. To an older mind that seems bizarre, awkward and embarrassing. But, besides finding it funny, I find it so telling of the extent of her impression on me from such an early age. And while I figured a few things out and decided marriage might not be the way to go, that admiration never died — and never will.

I find this to be so unfair on so many levels — for me, personally, and for every person in this room. And for every person who ever met Abby. I felt and feel very angry. I am very sad. I also am in intense denial. Abby was always other-worldly to me. She kind of always had a sort of mythical, legendary significance to me. So for her to suddenly be this incredible, unmatched spirit who we all talk about, like an invisible but impactful presence in our lives — that’s not much different than who she has always been to me.

What really gets me, is that I will never get the chance to act with her. I am sure that, if not strictly actors, there are many artists here today. And I am sure that all of us afflicted with the impulse to become artists have a love/hate relationship with our art and fellow artists. There are so many unfortunate qualities that give actors a bad name — we can be incredibly vain, selfish, self-indulgent, opportunistic, neurotic — shall I go on? And even though I never performed with her except in makeshift Christmas pageants, I know exactly the kind of scene partner Abby would be. She would be so present, so selfless, so giving. She would be alive and spontaneous, responsive and endlessly imaginative. She would show up without ego or judgement. We would have so much fun. We would have so much fun.

I spent my entire life until June 1st looking up to Abby. I still do, but it’s much more literal now. I talk to her more frequently than I ever have and I blow her kisses whenever I perform. When I have been unintelligible with tears, my only solace has been reminding myself that the reason I am doing what I am doing with my life is all because of her. I can confidently trace most aspects of my life to my idol, Abby, and so in many ways, literally owe that life to her.

When I have been beside myself with grief, I have gone back to who I was when I was just the little cousin — who in many ways I still am. And I think, as I always have, “How can I be more like Abby?” This often involves me trying to have a more genuine smile, or trying to be a nicer person — both of which are challenging for me. But the dumbed down answer is just to love. Love those around me and those far away. Focus so much less on myself than on other people. And in so many ways, to fly despite gravity.

I want to close by telling Owen and Julia — hi guys. I know you might not know me very well, but I really love your mom, and so I love you both very much. I’ll never be as cool as her but I would love to be as supportive an older cousin to you as your mom is to me.

Honoring Abby

By Joe Cabral, Former Theater Teacher

August 2nd, 2014

Good afternoon everyone. My name is Joe Cabral and I’m honored and humbled to have been asked to say a few words to you today. I was the Director of Theater at Belmont High School, and knew Abby as a young woman and young actor.

Abby had a magical quality and compelling presence on stage. You couldn’t not look at her, because she was so fully present and engaged. And that smile! Oh, what a smile!

As an actor in our children’s theater productions, she had an energy that wowed our elementary school audiences, and invited them in. I remember looking at their faces as Abby would sing and dance her way through the aisles of the theater, clapping her hands and getting them to sing along. It was infectious!

She was cast in three of our festival productions that made it to the state finals: Personal Effects, Women and Wallace, and Laundry and Bourbon. Both Personal Effects and Laundry and Bourbon went on to win 1st place.

Abby’s work as the character Elizabeth in Laundry and Bourbon her senior year was recognized as outstanding by all three adjudicators, and it truly was remarkable. She worked with imagination, intelligence, and commitment. There was a mind/body connection in her work that just wasn’t present in many young actors.

There’s a scene in the show where one character wants to physically tear apart another, for assailing her with a barrage of insults. Abby’s task was to stop her from doing that. The challenge was that the actor she needed to stop was much bigger and stronger than she was, and kept getting away from her. We must have run that chase scene more than 25 times before Abby finally almost tackled her and placed her in a bear hug. She won!

Her perseverance and work ethic allowed her to consistently strive for excellence; her careful preparation – the confidence to take risks and fully live in the moment. Abby possessed a tremendous amount of humility, and was a kind and generous young woman. She was an inspiration to me, and to all those she came in contact with.

Our last production in her senior year was the musical Once on This Island. Abby played the character Erzule, the Goddess of Love. How appropriate that seems now. In it she sang the song “Human Heart” and its message is universal.

I’m privileged now to be the head of the theater department at Walnut Hill School for the Arts, and am happy and thankful to have a recent graduate, Kat Ward, and our musical theater teacher, Gina Fiore, perform that song for you now.

Thank you.

East Coast Memorial Gathering

InviteDear Friends,

We have been deeply touched by the outpouring of love and support from all corners of the globe, and we invite those of you in the northeast to join us in our hometown on Saturday, August 2nd, to celebrate the life of our treasured Abby. In order to track the number of people attending, we are asking friends to send us their e-mail addresses (I will then send you the Paperless Post invite seen above). Please send an e-mail to if you’d like to attend.

We will have another memorial in the Los Angeles area later this summer. We hope you can join us at one of these events.

Overwhelmed by love

Dear  Friends,

We are simply stunned by the incredible outpouring of love, remembrances, prayers, best wishes, photos, and giving you have sent our way. There have been nearly 30,000 visits to this website in just the last three days and hundreds of beautiful comments. This is in addition to the many hundreds of incredible expressions of love and support that have come to each member of Abby’s family through e-mail, Facebook, snail-mail, text message, and phone call. We knew she was loved by many, but this has been beyond expectation. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

How You Can Help

At present, we are engaged in a time of stillness and quiet. Merlin has made it a priority to begin trying to find a “new normal” for himself and his children. As much as we wish the world would stop, life does – and must – go on.

Many of you have asked how you can help and when a memorial will take place. In accordance with Abby’s wishes, we will be planning a celebration of her life for those closest to her here in the Los Angeles area in the coming weeks and on the east coast later this summer. Given the enormous number of people she has touched, it will not be possible to have everyone present, but we will be sure to document the event so that all can share in remembrance of her light. For something you can do right now, there is a Facebook Group for sharing photos, stories, videos, prayers and other memories and we invite you to participate.

As we grapple with this loss in our lives, we are so grateful for the outpouring of care and support, and we also ask you to please not visit Merlin and the children unless invited at this time. Please also be patient with the time it may take Merlin to return calls, texts, and e-mails. Abby will always be with us, and we will be sure to create a space and time for her loved ones to come together to celebrate her.

Until then, we have set up some other suggestions of how you can help on this page.

Thank you once again for your love, understanding, and support.

~The Freeman and Larsen families

“Trampotine” time with daddy from summer, 2013.

We remember Abby

Abs in the Alps

Abigail Stearns Freeman, December 8, 1976 – June 1, 2014

We remember Abby as beautiful, inside and out. She lit up the room. She connected with you. She had high intelligence, high elegance, and high climbs. Most of all, she was loving and caring.

She was that way all her life. Her passion and joy as a friend, performer, wife, and mother never diminished. Over her last year, she fought her disease courageously, and suffered terribly. Through it all she continued her loving attention to those around her, with true grace.

Not that there weren’t times of intense fear. The type of aggressive, chemo resistant breast cancer she had is still rarely stoppable, particularly if not detected early, which tragically was the case, due to initial misdiagnosis as swelling from nursing. By the time she got a biopsy, her prognosis was extremely poor. Nevertheless she and the rest of us searched for a way forward, to maintain hope. She kept wishing, she said, for a happy ending to this story, wanting with all her heart, as all of us did, to beat this beast so she could continue to be there for Merlin, Owen and Julia. As each setback dimmed her prospects, she told us to “keep calm and carry on”, and ultimately wanted us to accept, as she did, that even though it wasn’t fair, her present journey would end not in the natural course, but prematurely. Bearing the unbearable, we are carrying on for our precious family, but with sorrow beyond words. We miss her.

Abby felt that prior to her cancer she had had a wonderful life—growing up in a warm family and caring community who supported her in pursuing her career dreams; a marriage of true love; a legacy of two beautiful, bright children; a record of reaching for and finding an outer edge of artistic adventure and accomplishment all over the world. She said she didn’t have a bucket list. She believed there would be something next for her, and whimsically said she would like to return as a dolphin because they are so sleek and strong, and play so joyfully and freely in the waves.

Near the end I asked her why she had chosen to be a theatrical performer. She said she loved the expressiveness of it, and the whole physical and mental process of creating a production with her teammates. She recalled that as a young teenager she would dance in her room for hours to Madonna’s music. And then she recalled the time she woke up one night terrified at finding thousands of tiny spiders on the ceiling, and that I had used a vacuum cleaner to get rid of them.

For each of us there will always be such heartwarming recollections of Abby in our lives. How deeply we loved her, and always will. When I told Abby that her light was shining, that her love, her goodness, and her spirit would carry on in all of us, she put her hand on my arm and added: “Forever”.

– Jack Freeman

On the path

In good handsAbby chose to start home hospice last week, and has been resting, snuggling with her children and Merlin, and staying as comfortable as possible with the help of wonderful nurses and the care of family and close friends. The cancer continues to spread, and in the last day or so she has begun sleeping more and speaking less. The time for long conversations and intense goodbyes is past, but when we have a few moments with her awake, we remind her of the love and care everyone has been sending, and give her hugs. The children and Elsa the puppy (now, to no one’s surprise, a permanent member of the family) keep the house lively and make it impossible for us to fall into despair. And the support of so many friends, colleagues, neighbors, and family members has been a balm to the soul.

– Cynthia Freeman