Eulogies & Tributes

Francoise Collet
Nancy Festinger
Nick Luttinger
David Mintz
Ivan Otero
Janis Palma
Richard Palmer
Marta Sarubbi
Tony Thomas


Ana Ilse Gómez
Pablo Neruda
Wislawa Symborska
Consuelo Tomás


17 enero 2008
What I'm Proud Of

I first met Mirta in 1967, almost 40 years ago and she has remained to this day, one of the most special people in my life. Few of us are fortunate enough to have the luxury of such a long friendship, one spanning almost half a century.

What bonded us first was our political involvement and our enthusiasm about being part of a revolutionary movement. In 1967 I had just returned from a year in France where, as an antiwar activist, I had come across a group called the JCR (Jeunesse Communist Revolutionaire) that had a sister organization here in the US. Fred Halstead was running for president on the Socialist Workers Party ticket and coming to speak at the Queens College campus where we were students at the time. I told Mirta that we ought to check it out and we did. Afterwards I joined the YSA, as did Mirta, and we became part of the YSA fraction on campus.

Our bond however, developed well beyond our political involvement. We shared similar interests in culture and the arts as well as a commitment to what became a long-standing friendship. There are a lot of ups and downs in daily living over such a long period, and there were times where we did not speak as frequently as others. But our friendship was such that we never lost contact.

Mirta was one of the golden threads that wove back and forth through the fabric of my life. The brightness of the spirit that is Mirta was always there to offer support, exchange ideas, cajole and console me through the darkest periods of my life as well as through the good times. She was always present, direct, true, honest, forthcoming, and totally without judgment.

In recent years although her health was failing, Mirta managed to make the long trip to support me in my first solo sculpture show. She also surprised me in 2002 by coming to the party celebrating the completion of my MA, an accomplishment that had taken 17 years to achieve. We always maintained contact via the telephone or email.

Several weeks ago, knowing that Mirta was failing and that I might not get to see her again, I made the trip to New York to see her in the hospital. I had approached the visit with a mixture of fear and determination. Because of Mirta's courage and complete acceptance--we spoke about her acceptance at length--I did not see a person who was ill. I saw the bright shining spirit that I had always known. We laughed and joked and told stories as always. I came away humbled by the acceptance I had experienced in her presence. She was at total peace with her situation, and that peace enabled us to spend just a little more time together as we had always done, talking about things that mattered, and grateful for what our friendship was...

Death and birth are both mysteries. It seems that no matter how hard we try, there is no approaching them with any logic. It is difficult to grasp the meaning or impact of Mirta's passing on her family or on any of the many lives she touched with her beauty, her grace and her humor. One thing is for certain; our lives are richer for having known her whether briefly or for her entire life. And knowing her, not just by her achievements, which were many, knowing the gentle, kind person she was, somehow mitigates the sense of unfairness at her early passing.

Francoise Collet