This morning I sat on the pew at Ronni Chasen’s funeral, on this extraordinary day of exuberant sun and boisterous wind, the day of my son’s birthday party, the day Ronni’s body was put into the soft, unopposing earth.
Ronni, who often said, “when are you going to get rid of those gold teeth? When are you going to give up those ripped jeans? You have to get out and be seen! People really like you, it’s funny, I mention your name and people really like you.” Ronni, who felt pride that I spoke hebrew and loved my songs, who appreciated me even as she couldn’t fathom me, Ronni who came to our house and had soul warming dinners with us when I couldn’t afford to hire her, who was making a transition from the woman who got artists recognition to the woman that recognized the artist within her.
That’s why, I feel, Paris became her place. She could be at a cafe, and be anything, for a moment. The senses open and the mind spreads, and before one can’t create an expression for what they perceive, one can imagine that they can. And as Ronni said, “I want to learn, I want to do different things.” I feel the gap between the qualities she loved in the people she fought so hard for and the qualities that made her artists love her, was closing.
Someone after the memorial said, “Ronnie had a way of saying things without offending people.” Shows how little he knew her. “Ronnie offended me allot”, I said. But Ronnie knew herself so well she could easily admit when she was wrong. Like all the times she pushed me to go to premieres with a beard. Months later she saw how much publicity women got when they came out, but I didn’t seek publicity one way or the other, and she gradually accepted me on all fronts.
Ronni had me hook, line and sinker from the moment I met her. I felt like a kid with her, she was so grounded, so worldly, so safe and perceptive that I could laugh and knock her arm, be sweet or outrageous, and she would roll her eyes and say, “I really do love you.”
I hate the users and takers who murdered Ronnie. I hate the world that this happens in. It is completely incongruous that a woman of such integrity, honesty, who worked so hard every day and night of her life, who did nothing but help people should be shot five times in the chest. She wasn’t in any “hood”, she didn’t hang around with people who live on that edge, she was street smart, she didn’t attract anger or danger, this is not the way she was supposed to go.
Ronnie created her life, their wasn’t a hair out of place, she did the work, she took the responsibility, she earned the existence she tended. Very few people have the courage to do that. Ronnie always said, “walk me to my car”, she wasn’t sloppy or careless about anything.
Incongruous. Unfair. Unbelievable. Enraging.
So today as I weep for those beautiful eyes that won’t look out another prodigious day with excitement and knowing, my son will wake up from his nap and have a party to celebrate his life, so far. Its a lot to ask of you, Ronnie, but could you guide him a little? Could you be as tough on him as you were on me, I’m not worried, he’ll find your soft spot. You were protective of me, Ronnie Chasen, I love you, the things you taught me, I’ll never forget.