Thursday, February 5, 2009

Who would have thought …

It’s true … people come into your life for a reason.

It may not be clear to you immediately, but there is no such thing as happenstance when it comes to friendships and even acquaintances.

Sometimes it’s a lifelong or long-term experience. Other times it’s a flash in the pan. The relationship may be drama-filled or stress-free, constant or intermittent, full of confusion or overflowing with enlightenment. It is the latter that I experienced with a beautiful woman who I first met under mournful circumstances.

Lani Silver definitely walked to the beat of her own drum. She was so full of life, exploration, hope, passion and compassion — the kind that sometimes made people wonder what made her tick.

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KJ said...

Loved this and wish I'd met her. I notice on her blog that she was involved with the Sugihara incident. When I was an elementary school librarian I read 'Passage to Freedom: The Sugihara Story' to the students--you'd enjoy it.

Ellison Horne said...

Michelle, this is such a moving tribute to Lani Silver, her work, and the inspiring insights you've gained from a special friendship. It is good to be reminded about the value of our engagements with others--be they casual or deeply held.

I’ve been working on a special project relating to Black History Month and can’t help but relate a special significance I feel from what you’ve written. Upon discovering the 10th Anniversary Memorial Tribute to murder victim James Byrd. Jr., held last June, I contacted the Director of the Byrd Foundation for Racial Healing, which organized the event. It was Lani Silver. To my shame, I never expected to be speaking with a white woman heading up an organization committed to racial healing from this tragic event on our recent history. I quickly discovered the compassion, generosity, and activism springing from her love for all humanity. It wasn’t long into the conversation before I found myself climbing aboard and volunteering for the Byrd Tribute. But there was more.

Later that night I spoke with my brother, Blu, who portrayed James Byrd, Sr. in the film, "Jasper, Texas". He told me how the entire cast of the film was so inspired from the Byrd family’s unexpected response to the tragedy and their steadfast commitment to racial healing over revenge. Suddenly it became abundantly clear how Lani would be the one the family chose to lead their foundation. And how prescient the message of unity through diversity rings out today, so fitting in this new era where the issue of race is being contemplated and embraced across our nation as never before.

I’m deeply saddened at the news of Lani’s passing, and grateful for the work she has done and the gifts we have received, enriching and inspiring us toward endeavors of peace, justice and good will.

Michelle, I appreciate the opportunity to reflect on this from your beautiful tribute to the memory of Lani Silver, and reminding us about the significance of our engagements with others.

Onward and upward,

Ellison Horne, Founder
Celebrating Solutions!
United Way of the Bay Area

Barbara Rodgers said...


What a beautiful tribute to your friend who, though I didn't know her, set an example for us all: to follow your passion and to make your life--no matter how long or short--count for something bigger than yourself. You are wise to have realized that the Universe did indeed choose you to catch Lani's fire.

Her flame has found the right home in your heart.

Barbara Rodgers

Laurie Udesky, Independent journalist said...

Thanks for your column about Lani Silver. I found it very moving. I only met Lani last summer when I joined the
SPJ northern California board, and really did not know her well at all.
It's funny how first impressions can be so deceptive. I thought
Lani was whacky and a bit out there, and I know that's part of who she was.
But I had no idea about the other layers of who she was and what she's done,
and how many people's lives she had touched until she left the planet.