It has been a year since Dália Leonardo died. She was a friend and colleague at the CUNY Graduate Center. I was her immediate supervisor but, in the case of academia, we worked collaboratively. Dália went into the hospital in the summer. At the time, I was preparing to go on sabbatical and had so many things to do. I never got to see her after she was in the hospital. Shortly after her admittance, her visitors were restricted to family only. I was able to talk to her by phone though, and she sounded like the same Dália I’d talked to for years.
The last time I called her, I was on sabbatical and happened to be at the Graduate Center when her office was needed for use by other faculty. I was surprised that Dália answered the phone on the second ring. She sounded well and I explained that her office was needed and that someone had to pack up her things. I thought that Dália might want me to do this rather than anyone else, and I was right. I apologized over and over but Dália told me not to worry about it. I asked how she was doing, and she was beginning chemotherapy.
I returned from Tennessee at the end of September to find that Dália would not be coming back to work, that her illness was terminal. I was shocked and upset. I sent Dália a letter to see if she would let me visit her at the hospice. I never got a response. I later found out that Dália was already slipping away. It was too late to talk to her.
Dália’s death effected me. I went into a deep depression for weeks, sorry that I had not visited her when she first went into the hosptial. I never really got a chance to say good-bye. I did talk to Dália’s aunt briefly. The family was heartbroken. They had lost a very beloved daughter and niece. Dália had only begun her professional career in academia, and it was a promising one. To have it cut so short was not fair.
Dália had a great sense of humor, which made her popular with so many people. Many a time I would sit in her office and we would laugh about something we found absurd or ironic. She loved movies and television shows. She adored her Boston Red Sox and hockey. As a friend of mine said, dying on Halloween was, well, a good day to die. I think Dália would laugh about dying on such a day.
Rest in peace, Dália. Your friends will always remember you.