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Our Precious Lori
Gone But Never Forgotten
(3 letters)

Winter 1995

by Susan Daley

Sorrow is my co-writer as I remember my dear friend, Lori Levine. I've known Lori for years yet, only now I realize just how important some things were to her. The precious sentimental items she kept were very carefully, and lovingly preserved in extremely organized fashion. I have a more complete picture of that enormous heart of hers.

Lori touched many of us. Her passing will leave a hole in the hearts of many. The things she was credited for accomplishing, are minuscule in comparison to her accomplishments she achieved anonymously. Lori was always available for her friends, even in times of ill health. She was so reliable, that often her needs were put on hold so that she may tend to another's. And she was aware of the concern, devotion, and love her friends felt for her.

Her contributions to humankind are too numerous to mention and yet are just a fraction of the essence of Lori. What she meant to you, what she meant to me is sufficient evidence of her abundant gifts to the Universe.

I will miss her more than I can say. The fact is, I will miss my Lori all of the time.

by Mary Lucey

Lori Levine was born in 1959 and died Friday, November 11, 1994 at the age of 35 from AIDS. Lori was a pioneer in the HIV/AIDS community. She was among the first women in Los Angeles to publicly disclose her HIV status, helping other women to come forward. She was a living example of the true meaning of peer support.

She published numerous articles for Being Alive's monthly newsletter and was instrumental in organizing the first women and HIV Conference in Los Angeles. She received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Los Angeles City AIDS coordinator on World AIDS Day, 1993. Lori founded the Women Being Alive quarterly newsletter, a publication by and for women living with HIV and AIDS.

Lori was very intelligent and had a special knack for making other women sound intelligent when she wrote about our adventures and experiences. We'll miss her insights, her perspective, and her contributions to our lives & our newsletter. But most of all we will miss her friendship. We love you Lori.

Rest In Peace. Your nightmare is over.

by Ferd Eggan

The night before Lori died, a number of her friends were at the hospital, going into the critical care unit on occasion to touch her, to say we loved her, to say good-bye and that we understood that she was letting go of all of us.

Mary and I, Suzanne, Jackie, and Cory were talking about how overwhelming the past months have been with so many of our friends dying, leaving us. We felt bereft, abandoned, lonely. We looked at each other and recognized the starkest truth: we'll be here too. For those with AIDS, saying good-bye to our friends is the agony of giving a piece of ourselves away & the terror of looking our future in the face.

For Lori's memorial, we gathered in a ritual that we have basically invented. We mourn, we grieve the loss of our precious Lori, & we perform once again the utterance that says I'm alive and I will live as best I can.

Lori called me ten times one day in the spring of '91. I was looking for an assistant director at Being Alive. She wanted the job. She was just coming back to life after the death in Israel of her beloved Shimmy. She wanted to engage life & contribute to the lives of others. We recognized and loved each other from the first minute.

Lori was great at her job and people at Being Alive grew to love her and to incorporate into their view that there were real live women with AIDS. She taught us all what it meant to feel terrible, but look fabulous. She helped women to fight through the isolation they feel when learning they have AIDS. I respected Lori's understandings & her great abilities, but I love her because she gave me a great gift: myself.

Lori helped me feel my way through some episodes that were crucial in melting the icebergs of loneliness and isolation that I was stuck in for ten years. She made me believe I was intelligent and attractive and that I had things to offer to other people. For someone who had considered his only attribute to be a capacity to hoodwink people into believing he was smart and competent, this was a great gift.

I trusted Lori as a confidant & advisor even when I rejected her advice. That meant I could also love her, listen to her extremely complicated problems, & offer help. For Lori, I even broke one of my strongest rules. About a month ago, Mary inveigled me into going to Lori's and cooking a meal for her.

We did depend on each other. After years in a frozen state, I was happy to depend on a human being. I was happy to let Lori know that I loved her and that I was stable and willing to be there for her in any difficulty. I was there for Lori and she was there for me. I am desolate and lonely now that Lori has left me and all of us.

So now, back to the gathering of us PWAs in the hall at Midway. We've all been shocked by this one; the death was too fast. And, shocked largely by the recognition that the ones we admired and loved, looked to for inspiration, are dying now. Linda, Sean, Dave, Roxy, fill in a name here, are dead.

We are who's left. And we better fucking take care of each other. I promise, here and now, that I love this bond between us and that I will try to rely on it to care for you and help you, hold your bedpan and fetch you food & pills at 3 am, if you will do the same for me.

I am scared; I think you are scared too. Nobody has to be courageous. Yes, mental attitude is life sustaining, but I am too westernized to give up the germ theory of disease. These microbes inside us may act in ways that our body/minds cannot combat. Death comes to the strong and the weak.

So, even if I am whiny and bitter and confused, will you care for me and help me, for richer and poorer, for better or worse? I find that in these past horrific weeks that I want and need a community of friends, friends like you with whom I share my hopes and fears, for all the rest of my days. Lori, I thank you for giving this last great gift.

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This article was provided by Women Alive. It is a part of the publication Women Alive Newsletter.
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