One thing that has helped me this week is having so many conversations about Cheryl with friends, with strangers I met at the funeral home, with people I only see once in a while, like Blaise Allysen Kearsley, who told me that How I Learned The Hard Way, which Cheryl read at, was one of her favorite of her series How I Learned (which was awesome and is one you should totally attend) and Goddess Perlman, with whom I discussed over the top Catholic flower arrangements (something I'd been previously unaware of). So many people loved, cared about, and were moved by Cheryl. I met super funny lady Andrea Alton. I'm looking forward to seeing her friend Tim Wells while I'm in London; I know she would've liked that. I believe the people you surround yourself with are just as much a statement about who you are as anything you yourself do, and Cheryl knew a lot of amazing, beautiful, talented people. My instinct in some ways is to be alone, but I've realized this week that obviously nobody can bring her back or stop the awfulness that was her illness, but we can celebrate her life and her spirit and her talent and creativity and generosity.
I reread Cheryl's poem "Lizzie" in a book I was so grateful happened to be next to my bed (along with, okay, probably 30 others), The World in Us: Lesbian and Gay Poetry of the Next Wave, before I went to Staten Island and I heard her voice in my head, in that accent, with all that it held. I remembered that her story "Break" appears in my anthology Naughty Spanking Stories from A to Z 2. I am hoping I will have the opportunity to publish another of her short stories in an upcoming erotica book. I hope that more video of her reading surfaces because of course the words live on on the page, but with Cheryl, that were most vibrant when summoned by her, in her voice.
So here are the memorial details; read more at WTF Cancer Diaries and Facebook, and please spread the word. I hope to see Dixon Place, where I was in the audience with Kelli and Cheryl and a bunch of other queers, on their first date, packed extra full.
If you’d like to remember Cheryl with a donation, we are in the process of negotiating with an LGBT arts organization to provide a writers’ scholarship in Cheryl’s name. The details of this should be settled in the next few weeks, so please keep checking back. If you’d like to financially help out Cheryl’s partner Kelli, who lived at the hospital and rehab 24/7 from April 5 until the time of Cheryl’s death, you can do so here.
A Memorial for Cheryl B (is for Beautiful)
July 23, 3-6 pm
161A Chrystie Street
New York, New York