In Memory of Eden Bernardy, Angel Woman
It has been six weeks since my beloved mentor, my first acting teacher in Los Angeles, Eden Bernardy, passed away. She was battling a cancer that had begun to attack her with a special vengeance. On Friday, August 19th, 2016, in the midst of a procedure her doctors hoped would help her, she lost the battle.
It’s taken me some time to process, to come to share a few of my own thoughts on this magnificent angel woman. …I’ve been in that period of grief where I bargain that maybe it’s all a big joke. That it’s just some lesson that Eden will take back, deciding we’ve learned it enough. That she’ll come around and let us know she was just offering us another one of her many challenges, but never fear because here she is, still around to love us big and push us hard.
I wish this were true, but it seems this last lesson endures. She loves us from a Greater place, now.
Instantly, I found the proof that I’m only one of so many people who mourn her, written all over her Facebook wall. In the immediate wake of her death, it was truly amazing to see all the words that other people, namely students, had written about her. They were beautiful and I identified with them immensely… Others’ remembrances of Eden Bernardy spoke of all my love and pain. Initially I felt that there was no point to writing anything of my own at all. Everything I was thinking and feeling had already been said.
Then it occurred to me how miraculous that was. Because it’s so remarkable… Read what people have written of her and you’ll learn that we all have the same sentiment. To put it in my own terms: Eden Bernardy was an angel. She was an angelic goddess woman put on this earth to challenge us, to push us, to love us in a way that almost none of us could understand… so DEEP.
Within an instant of your meeting Eden, she LOVED you. So hard. And she didn’t discriminate with that love. But it can be said that if she saw something in you, she was not letting you get away without honoring that thing. She would flay you alive if you decided to walk into her holy room of self exploration, and not show up 100%. Or at least as close to 100% as you were humanly capable of being.
When I first met Eden, I think she saw my tenderness. She later learned my toughness, with great surprise and pride, I think. But instantly spying my tender heart, she went out of her way to make me know that I had value, and that I was safe. She made me know her first point, but I knew she was wrong about her second point… I wasn’t safe. This woman would be my destroyer. I was on the brink of change, on the brink of becoming someone new, of understanding myself and the world in a whole new way… Because this amazing woman SAW me. She saw me in a way that I’m still struggling to see myself. Though I would never commit the blasphemy of doubt in her assessment that I HAD something.
Now, I find I mourn her loss so intensely. Truly, I had not seen her in some years, but the fact that I know she’s not walking this Earth any longer seems to blast open a gaping hole in my heart. I miss her Presence so. much. I can’t explain it and I’m still not sure why it hurts so much.
Yet I Know a certain truth in spite of this grief: The Light of who she is is not gone…. It felt that way, at first. But her light is not put out. It couldn’t be. If anything, it is a thousand times brighter in the wake of her death. And it is another challenge.
This is something that I’m contemplating in the weeks since learning of her death. Something that her colleague Zak Barnett wrote in his tribute to her on Facebook… “I cannot find the words, but I do know, for all those that are grieving, that she, more than anyone, would want her passing to make everyone bigger. An impetus to make us all more of who we are; to walk through fear and grief with a call for more life. More joy. More expression of all of who we are. She is now everywhere…I’m choosing to grow as she would have me grow.”
She has created so much love. And she has inspired so many people to be bigger.
The weight of this inspiration feels somehow heavy. How do you live up to what this mad, magical angel woman KNOWS you truly are? It is terrifying in it’s greatness.
And what a woman… to shoulder the burden of so many terrified blooming artists to discover and embrace who they really are.
She was taken so suddenly, and for weeks, tears came to my eyes a few times a day to scream at the injustice of this reality… That I’ll never learn from her again… I’ll never again in this lifetime be schooled by or flayed alive by the master sensei that was Eden Bernardy.
…..Or will I? …Or am I, in this very moment?
In this tragic loss of a universally recognizable, stunning Light of heaven…
We are all being flayed alive by her departure.
She’s no longer here to challenge us in person. Yet we are surrounded by her presence, by her earthly impact. And the Meaning of her death. It is the challenge — live up to the person Eden knew you could be. Don’t slack. Be bigger. If anyone can come from the grave to flay you for non-commitment, you know it is this woman. Who is more than woman, now. She’s pure light. She’s everywhere. She’s left us so much of herself.
Let us let her make us greater now than we’ve ever been.
As Great as she always knew we truly were, all along.
… … …
There are so many more things to say of Eden Bernardy, in more skillful ways, to be sure. It’s taken me several weeks to release these words, partly because I know they could never encompass all there is to remember or appreciate of her. There were many sides to this special woman.
I did not know her the best or the longest of all those who now grieve her. I cannot say I got to love her the most, but one cannot say that my enduring love for her is not fierce… It’s as fierce as I felt her love me in the first moments of our meeting.
So, to the woman who we’ve established is still very much among us, I have this to say:
Eden Bernardy… I love you. I love you so much. I love you more than I even understand, but I think somehow this comes from some love you taught me, of myself. Thank you. Thank you for opening my world and showing me what Big Love really is. Thank you for all the times you flayed me alive with no mercy, because you believed in my Greatness. Thank you for being a shining beacon of light and love and total and complete badassery. I will always carry you with me. You changed me and I will never be the same. I am a stronger woman because of the brief time I spent learning from you, and I am forever grateful. I find it is you, more than anyone else I’ve loved and lost, who I want to make proud. I promise to do my best. …Come back soon.