Saturday, September 17, 2016

Brilliance Lost

It's very difficult to do a blog post about someone you Love and have lost.  Especially if they are someone you never really met, never really knew, because how much do we truly know and Love  each other in this blog world? I think we'd be surprised.

This is Ellie, Eleanor Anne O'Connell Decret.  Ellie died on August 30th, 2016.  She died almost to the hour that princess Diana died (US time to Paris time) - and she would have fucking loved that.

Ellie was from Santa Barbara and had been living for many years in Paris, with her French husband, David Decret and her sweet (really) daughter Grace.

I came to know her, again - love/know - feelings in this medium sometimes feel more real, more concrete and certainly more meaningful than some in our tactile world - through her brutal (read that as gut punch brutal) and funny, generous, thoughtful and deeply appreciative writing.  She was a decorator and antique dealer (Cira, her Malibu antique shop), and had the most cutting eye for great design and a zeal for bringing it to the forefront so that others could learn and appreciate. Even through this devastating disease, she kept an online antiques shop and was dedicated to it.  She loved beautiful things and made no apologies.  She wasn't afraid to say the material world enchanted her. Ellie came from what most of us would consider a very posh background and had many connected friends. Not only did she have her shop in Malibu but she also had worked for Assouline (luxury book company) and 1st Dibs.

And Ellie had ALS.

I could speak volumes about her struggle to try to beat this unbeatable disease. About the way she kept her extraordinary sense of humor, truly it was legendary, to the very, very end. Throughout her illness,she was rude and acerbic, impatient and humbled. She sought Gods guidance and strength and she was pissed off when she couldn't get it, which happened way more often than not.  She was fierce in her determination to fight this devil of a disease and relentless in her research and experimentation with diet (she was a junk food aficionado, so that's not easy!)  and meditation and, again, that gob-smacking sense of humor. You could probably hear the laughter ringing around the world (she had over 3,000 readers) every time she got out there and wrote to us.  Everyone fights for something in their life, but not many fight to bloody fingers trying to climb out of darkness, and that's what ALS can bring, because the minute you get it you know you are going to die and it isn't going to be pretty.

ALS moves quick, in six years Ellie was completely paralyzed and barely able to speak.  There where many times when she could not even swallow (a feeding tube was necessary) and towards the end, could not breathe at all without a breathing tube. When she could whisper, she would dictate her blog post. She was relentless in her drive to give to and take something from this world, to connect and express herself. And still she could crack us up with her attitude about all of it.
Ellie had been letting us all know for quite some time that she wanted to go.  And she wanted to go on her own terms. Everyone had had enough, her family, her friends, her readers, and most especially, Ellie. Enough of the fear, the pain, the anger and the bloody battle. She came home from Paris to die and within a month she did... on her own terms, with all those who loved her surrounding her - and the thousands of cards and letters from the people who loved her through her blog (that would include me) because they meant the world to her, I think they kept her going for awhile.

If you've made it to the end of this knowing that just because you receive beauty and wealth,  prestige and power in this life,  it doesn't mean that you are not entitled to the same empathy and tenderness and embrace as anyone who is not in that position, as many of us are not and will never be, then you have learned one of the most precious lessons in life - that we are all the same, we are one, and no matter what, the fear and sorrow of leaving this world is exactly the same. And the hard won understanding that nothing in this world, no matter the price nor the beauty, is of any value except the giving and receiving of Love. Ellie knew this, I think it had been an underlying value all her life.

In her last blog post, she ended with an enticement, as she so often did.....Hold on, I have so much more to tell you.

That's what she taught me, that's why I loved her. Tell it. Don't worry about how it sounds, don't worry about how they will take it. Just be who you are, no apologizing, no editing. This is who she was, this was her legacy.  And Love, she left behind a whole fucking lot of Love.
If we're lucky we can learn from her life.       So tell me. Tell me more, I want to know.

With Love for my friend, Ellie O'Connell Decret, rest in peace.