We miss you, Sarah

One year ago today, my old high-school friend, crush and prom date, Sarah LeFoll, died suddenly and unexpectedly, just four days after her 22nd birthday.

We still miss you, Gimpi.


Me and Sarah on my graduation night in 1999.

It has undoubtedly been a difficult week for Sarah’s family and close friends, what with her birthday on Monday, and now this terribly sad anniversary. But people have been finding ways to celebrate her life, rather than just mourning her death, which is great. I’ve been e-mailing back and forth with Sarah’s mom, and she told me: “I have been made aware of many little celebrations and memorials going on all over this week in her honor. She’d think that was cool.” One of those “little celebrations” took place on Monday when one of Sarah’s good friends from Utah set off fireworks in her honor — which is something that Sarah had once mused she would like to have done at her funeral someday — and also released 12 yellow balloons into the sky. I wish I could have been there for it.

One of the best ways to celebrate Sarah’s life is to share her amazing musical talents, and our former high-school music director, Mr. Treggor, was kind enough to make a five-minute video montage containing clips from several of her performances on the NHS stage:


source file

Hopefully that video will bring some comfort to those who knew Sarah — hearing her beautiful voice again is certainly a pleasure — and hopefully it will give those who didn’t know her an additional glimpse of the girl we all loved so much.

Speaking of glimpses of Sarah (or “Gimpi” as I sometimes called her — “Scout” as many others called her), I’ve spent some time recently looking through old photos, and have managed to dig up a bunch that I hadn’t previously uploaded to the website. One of the newly re-discovered photos is the graduation picture at the top of this post. It was a real thrill to find that one, as it was a very meaningful picture to me once upon a time; it was, for a long time, the best picture that I had of me and Sarah together, and for quite some time after she asked me to her prom (this is when she was a junior at NHS and I was a freshman at USC, and before Becky and I had started dating), I had a copy of the picture displayed in my dorm room.

Another very meaningful photo that I just found is this one from Dine Off Broadway 1999, when I was still a senior at NHS and Sarah was a sophomore:

Sarah is singing “Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina” from Evita, and I am playing the role of — I kid you not — Juan Perón. Try not to laugh. :) Oddly enough, having pasty white redheads play Juan Peron in Dine Off productions was something of a chamber choir tradition. (Just ask Andy Daigle.) Anyway, since it wasn’t actually a performance of the whole musical, but rather just that one song, I didn’t actually have to do anything as Juan Perón; the sum total of my theatrical performance was to walk Sarah onto the stage, stand there and look at her while she sang, and then walk her off the stage. But the honor of being “her Juan Perón” would long outlive that one show, and was something we joked about for months afterward.

I also found these lovely pictures of Sarah from Homecoming in October 1998 (with Nick) and from the music department trip to Florida in April 1999 (with Meng, me and Jaimie):

Sarah and I weren’t really friends yet at the time of Homecoming, but we were in the same group, heading to the dance together, because of mutual friends. (That, of course, was October 24, 1998 — the night I became king.) By the time the second photo was taken, on the Florida trip, we were already pretty good friends. But it was at the very tail end of my senior year that we really became close, as my fond memories of the Country 92.5 Fest on June 13, 1999, as expressed in my original post mourning her death, make clear. One of my biggest regrets is that I really had so little time with Sarah — I started college on the other side of the country just months after our friendship really blossomed, and although we kept in touch via e-mail and IM for a while, and I came home for her junior prom, we gradually stopped being in regular contact with one another, as usually happens with old friends when geography gets in the way. Of course, I always figured in the back of my mind that we’d someday had a chance to get back together and catch up, and even a year after she died, it’s still hard to really wrap by mind around the fact that that’s never going to happen, in this world at least.

Anyway, to view all my pictures of Sarah that I just newly uploaded, go here. In addition, Sarah’s mom sent me a handful of photos that I didn’t previously have; you can view those here. Last but not least, here, from LifeTributes.net, is a video clip of the photo montage that was displayed during Sarah’s wake:


source file

I’ll soon be adding these video clips to the Sarah LeFoll memorial page.

As for how I’m doing with regard to all this… this anniversary time is rough, but for the most part, mourning Sarah isn’t an everyday ordeal for me anymore, like I’m sure it still is for her family and close friends. Every once in a while, I am struck by a memory of Sarah, or I see a girl with long curly hair about the same color as Sarah’s and I do a double-take. But “closure,” for me, came last fall, from an expected source: not from singing at the funeral (though that was important too), not from seeing Sarah laid to rest, but from a dream. On the evening of October 3, a few days after returning from my whirlwind trip to Connecticut and Arizona for the funeral and then job interviews, I had a dream about Sarah — or perhaps it was something a bit more than a dream. Here is how I described it in an e-mail:

Sarah and I were standing next to a car (our limo from the prom, maybe?), reminiscing about things. I only remember the tail end of the conversation, and that only vaguely, but I think we were chatting about the prom, and also maybe her senior prom as well… Anyway, this whole conversation was definitely from the perspective of Sarah talking to me from beyond the grave, and I was sad throughout the dream because I knew that she was gone. At some point, she saw how sad I looked, and she walked over to the other side of the car where I was, and gave me a hug. I think she said, “I’m sorry,” and I said, “I miss you.” I was on the verge of tears at this point, and she clearly wanted to comfort me somehow. She asked, “What can I do?” or something like that. Next comes the part that I remember very clearly. I answered, “Just… swear to God that you’re OK.” She answered, “Yes.” And I said, “Tell me that I’ll be able to see you again someday.” Again, she answered. “Yes.” The thing is, though, when she said “Yes” those two times, it was totally different than previously in the dream, when we’d been chatting. Instead of a normal voice, it was this weird whispering voice, very loud and urgent but slightly distant; it felt like it was penetrating into the dream from outside, somehow, instead of coming directly from the Sarah I was hugging. It gave me chills all over, and woke me up straight away.

I don’t know for sure, and I’m no expert on the spiritual world or anything, but at the end there, I think Sarah might actually have been speaking to me. If so, what she said was very reassuring, because she very clearly and confidently said “yes” to both my questions: she is OK, and I’ll see her again someday.

Was Sarah’s spirit speaking to me, or was my subconscious just working something out? I don’t know, but the weird whispering is what makes me think that perhaps something beyond just a normal dream was happening. I don’t know why my subconscious would have conjured that. I’ve spoken to Sarah’s mom about it via e-mail, and she is quite certain that Sarah spoke to me. (Sarah’s mom is a really neat lady, BTW.) Either way, the dream definitely had the intended effect — if we can impute an intention to my subconscious, or to Sarah’s spirit, or to the combination of the two. That dream was my “closure.” I’ve felt quite a bit better ever since, and I’m now able to reminisce fondly about Sarah without being totally overwhelmed by sadness (though of course the sadness is still there).

Anyway, enough about me. This post is about Sarah, and how much we miss her. On that count, I can only repeat what I said in an unexpectedly Instalanched post back in September: “I don’t know if they can read blogs in heaven… but I’ll miss you, Sarah. We all will.”

7 Responses to “We miss you, Sarah”

  1. David K. says:

    Your spirit lives on with us in our memories Sarah. Gone but definitely not forgotten, just look at the impact you had on people who barely knew you like me, and then think of the impact you had on those who really knew you :)

  2. Brendan Loy says:

    Indeed… it is really amazing how much of an impact Sarah had on people… her mom and I were just marvelling over it. She touched more people in her short lifetime than do many people who live to a ripe old age.

  3. uscroger says:

    Brendan,

    Sorry about your loss. Indeed, it is so painful when one loses a dear close friend. my prayers go out to both of you.

  4. Leanna Loomer says:

    As a parent, an outsider of course from the world Brendan describes, but a loving one, I had a very powerful impression of Sarah from the first time I saw her. There was an almost unearthly joy and beauty emanating from her. As I saw Brendan’s feelings for her deepen, I couldn’t help thinking what a pair they might have been. I felt her aura each time I saw her, saw pictures Brendan took, or saw her onstage at NHS. News of her death was just incomprehensible to me. Her light being extinguished seemed impossible. The only words that came to my mind, and they stay with me, were spoken by Abraham Lincoln on the death of his most beloved son Willie: (to paraphrase) [She] was too good for this world.

  5. Dana says:

    Brendan,
    I just wanted to say thank you to you, for still posting pictures and videos of Sarah. The video from Mr. T. is amazing and I can see myself in the back of Sarah as we performed “I Feel Pretty”. Not a day goes by that a memory of Sarah doesn’t pop into my head. I know this week was tough for a lot of people, but I truly think this tribute to her has helped us all.
    ~Dana

  6. Coach Leahy says:

    Great tribute. I didn’t know the girl, but it’s obvious she was the type of classically graceful person who made a positive contribution to society and made a favorable impression on everyone she met. Those types of people are rare in this world, and you need to hold onto them. God bless her and her family.

  7. Nana says:

    Thank you once again Brendan! Lovely addition to Sarah’s Memorial site.