Eulogy by Mark Bonchek

“My sister Lisa had many talents.
One was an ability to be unemotional about emotional subjects.
As a friend noted, ‘she was the calm in her own storm.’

As brother and sister, you would think that I might have that gift too. Unfortunately that is not the case.

In a radio interview with Lisa, Julia Klam, Ann Leary, and Laura Zigman started crying.
Lisa said, “It’s o.k. You can do this. If I can do this, you can do this.”

Lisa. If you could do this, maybe I can do this.

This is also the theme of my eulogy. That Lisa’s inspiration, guidance, and generosity lives on in all of us.

Two and a half years ago, Lisa posted a poem called “When I Die.”

When I Die – July 13, 2012
Lisa Bonchek Adams

When I die don’t think you’ve “lost” me.
I’ll be right there with you, living on in the memories we have made.
When I die don’t say I “fought a battle.” Or “lost a battle.” Or “succumbed.”
Don’t make it sound like I didn’t try hard enough, or have the right attitude, or that I simply gave up.

When I die don’t say I “passed.”
That sounds like I walked by you in the corridor at school.

When I die tell the world what happened.
Plain and simple.
No euphemisms, no flowery language, no metaphors.

Instead, remember me and let my words live on.
Tell stories of something good I did.
Give my children a kind word.
Let them know what they meant to me.
That I would have stayed forever if I could.

Don’t try to comfort my children by telling them I’m an angel watching over them from heaven or that I’m in a better place:
There is no better place to me than being here with them.

They have learned about grief and they will learn more.
That is part of it all.

When I die someday just tell the truth:
I lived, I died.
The end.

Lisa’s death may have been the end of her life, but it is not the end of her legacy.

This legacy is all around us today.
• In her words, which continue to educate, illuminate, and inspire.
• In her friends and family, who forever hold Lisa in their hearts.
• In her children, whom Lisa cherished more than anything in the world.

Lisa told us:

“When I die tell the world what happened.
Plain and simple.
No euphemisms, no flowery language, no metaphors.”

Those of you who know me can attest that one isn’t so easy for me.
If I had my way, this eulogy would be full of euphemisms, flowery language, and metaphors.  But Lisa was never one to make things easy for people. That was part of her gift.  She forced us to question our assumptions.
• To re-examine what we take for granted.
• To see beauty in the everyday.
• To push a little harder.
• Set our sights a little higher.
• Love a little deeper.

She told us to “remember me and let my words live on.
Tell stories of something good I did.”

Where should we even begin? There are so many stories.

Here are a few from her friends and followers who generously posted their thoughts on Lisa’s Blog and Facebook page.

• “Lisa was who I turned to when my close friend started treatment for kidney cancer, and was who I turned to when my friend passed away. She touched me for her bravery, her honesty, and how she used her own struggles to help others. She reminded me on bad days to find beauty in the world and to share it.”

• “It’s hard to know someone you’ve never met, whose voice you’ve never heard. But a lot of us knew Lisa. She was — is — an inspiration.”

• “I met Lisa, like so many others online, when first diagnosed with breast cancer. Her words of wisdom and determination have carried me and many others for the past few years.”

• “Because of [Lisa] I pushed on with the new path of clinical trial treatment. Thanks in no small part to her wise words I have discovered a new line of treatment which may keep me with my husband and infant daughter for a while yet.”

• “Her life had such meaning, she taught us all so very, very much. I will think of her when I see the abundance of flowers this spring, and I will know her spirit is in their perfect beauty, their determination to bloom and be the best they can be.”

(I know that Lisa said no flowery language, but I think it’s ok if we are actually talking about flowers)

I hope all of you read Katie Rosman’s article this week in the New York Times. Katie, you spoke for all of us in remembering Lisa. Katie wrote, “Lisa didn’t make friends online as much as absorbed them whole.”

Lisa had an ability to make people feel that they knew her.
Those who knew her were blessed by that friendship.
But even those who didn’t know her felt she was their friend.
And she was.

Lisa raised friendship to an art form and redefined the meaning of friendship in our digital age.

We are all grieving the loss of Lisa.
But perhaps we are afraid that something else might disappear.
The community that surrounded her.

It is our opportunity, and perhaps our obligation, to ensure that this community lives on, inspired by Lisa’s generosity, courage, wisdom, humor, and inspiration.

Lisa said, “When I die don’t think you’ve “lost” me.
I’ll be right there with you, living on in the memories we have made.”

If memories are the way Lisa wanted to live on, then let’s keep making Lisa’s kind of memories together.

Goodbye sis. You will always be a part of me … and part of us.”


Next in the program for Lisa’s Memorial Service:  Justine’s Eulogy

§ 2 Responses to Eulogy by Mark Bonchek"

  • Laura says:

    Thank you Mark and Clarke. The world is still listening. With love!

  • Belinda says:

    Lisa’s poem is beautiful, and I would like to tell of something good she did.

    When Lisa was a junior in high school, she read a story aloud in my husband’s freshman English class; he always remembered the plot of the story and how it captured his interest. Years later, when we were married, he wanted to read the story again but had no recollection of the title or the author.

    I emailed Lisa to explain the situation and ask if she could help. Even though she was recovering from surgery at the time, she went through some boxes of old books and found the story collection. I remember she sent me a copy and expressed pleasure in helping me to achieve my “romantic gesture.” What a sweetheart she was! My sincerest condolences to your family.

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