Many thanks to everyone who attended Ella's memorial service, or sent their condolences.
The program for the service is available here.
Here are the texts of (most of) the speaker's remarks:
Denise Brown, director of the Montclair High School Dance Company where Ella danced all through High School, dedicated this year's performance to Ella - see the dedication in the program.
The Macalester Theatre and Dance Department Spring Concert Program also dedicated the performance to Ella, and donated proceeds to her fund.
Ella and I shared a cerebral side: I suppose our heads were in the same cloud.
I am a bookish person, and Ella and I spent many hours in my study, surrounded by books, talking about literature and ideas. We talked about poetry, and philosophy, and biology, and evolution, and I would tell her my ideas about how we evolved, as humans, to live together, how the mind is adapted for understanding minds. I'm not sure that's true, but Ella herself is the best proof I know: she was so insightful and sensitive, a mind attuned to others.
We talked a lot about politics. She wanted to understand the financial crisis, and how it happened and who caused it. She wanted to understand the elections and what people stood for and what we believed.
And we shared music. When she was little, and had graduated from baah baah black sheep, I used to sing her to sleep with "Mr. Tambourine Man:" all four verses and five choruses, every night. Of course, I played her all my old 60's music, and she loved some of it, especially the folky stuff. And though Ella was my Brown Eyed Girl, she never did like that song.
By the time she was in college, she was introducing me to her music: Ben Folds, Sufjan Stevens, interesting indie stuff. And she kept exploring some of my era. One day, she told me she loved the Jefferson Airplane song, "Embryonic Journey". It's a haunting piece for finger picking guitar — you heard it in the slide show. She asked me if I knew anything else like that. I played her a few things, and she loved Leo Kottke, and choreographed the dance you saw to his music. I guess I didn't quite realize until I spoke to Faith the other day that she had done that in my honor.
Since she's been home from college, she's made sure to keep these conversations going. Last year, she asked me to get her a subscription to The Nation, and soon she was calling me, full of moral indignation, asking me if had read some article about yet another outrage. She made me sign up for Spotify when she discovered a musician, Charlie Parr, whom she knew I would love. And I did: his raw voice and dark lyrics and finger picking guitar had the kind of intensity and authenticity we both responded to.
We talked about what it meant to us to be Jewish; how to sort out values from beliefs. Ella embraced the Jewish values we hoped to teach: to do justice and love mercy, as Hillel said; to heal and repair the world.
In her volunteer work at Tubman and Free Arts Minnesota, she worked with battered women, and with children in harsh poverty, and she dealt with it without flinching or losing her compassion.
We talked about how she could use all her talents, her artistic creativity, and her analytic and quantitative skills, to pursue her goals. She wanted to go for a PhD in Psychology, but she also considered public health. The goal was the same: to help people in pain.
After the accident, we sat by her in the hospital, and were so moved by the people who came to support us, in numbers the ICU had never seen. The nurses in the trauma unit told us they were rarely so affected as they were by Ella, her sweet picture by the bed, and the outpouring of love she received.
Ian's friends came in from all over, to rally to him. They talked to us about the sweetness and goodness, the moral compass, that Ian shares with Ella.
The girls came, whom I thought were Ella's friends, but turned out to be her sisters, and kept watch over her day and night. They told us stories, and they were charming and funny. From Jessi and Gabby and Ian, we heard about the housewarming party that Ella held on her birthday, because a birthday party would be too narcissistic.
The description I heard most often in these stories was, simply, "Ella," as in "typical Ella" or "That's so Ella." I think that if your name is the only way to describe what you do, it is because you have so much character and style and integrity that no comparison is adequate.
When I found the courage to look at the possessions of hers we took home from the hospital, I found in her bag a copy of The Nation, opened to a piece on environmental resistance. I suppose that is the last thing she ever read. That is so Ella.
At the hospital, we discovered that Ella had already registered online as an Organ Donor, and carefully checked every box: for her heart, her eyes, and all her tissues and organs. She saved eight lives: it was her last, magnificent gift.
Right now, it is little consolation. Someone has Ella's eyes, but not her vision. Someone has her heart, a great gift of life, but they will not suddenly wake up and dance or bake a lattice–crusted pie, or sit down to the piano and play "Annie Waits" or "Stairway to Heaven." Ella's true heart has gone out of the world, and we feel as though the heart of the world has gone with it.
In all our incomprehensible loss, we hope we can help each other recall Ella's spirit of compassion.
To all of Ian and Ella's friends, let me say that since you are their brothers and sisters, you are also our children.
Goodbye, Ella, we miss you, and we will always love you.