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Flash Letters, 5-3: Spirit in a Material World
Homer Avila's Last Song; Homer's Grace; Homer's Dance

Letters from Dana Caspersen, David White, and Charlene Van Fleet

Changing the Sheets

I was just now trying to strip the bed in my apartment in Frankfurt where Patricia and Homer slept last week, just before he died. It is very hard to do.

All the different Homer streams fly from it to me, through me. Precious and painful to receive, to hold, to let go. Homer's eager heart, his joy, his frustrations, his inveterate lateness, his insistence on doing way more than was possible, his stubborn, joyous uncurling toward Patricia, the liquid brilliance of his moving, his great eloquence, his bravery, his stories, his laughter, his insisting on carrying the watermelon down to the stream himself and falling down the hill with the huge knife and only telling me about it later. His graciousness, his listening to Patricia singing him to sleep over the phone as he lay dying, his swinging in circles in the snow in Vermont and secretly stuffing a brownie in my bag to be discovered later. His wish to know. His decency, his humility. His love for his family. His anger, his searching. His huge gift to me. Homer's love of beauty. Homer's beauty. The subtraction of Homer from the world. The honor of having shared it with him.

-- Dana Caspersen


Time Warp

I am writing to further acknowledge, actually applaud, the embodiment of grace and courage that is both the fact and memory of Homer Avila. Maybe because I went back so far in this community with DTW, I took Homer for granted as a permanent part of the landscape, one of the never-say-die dancers who live tenaciously at the intersection of art and citizenship.

As in Phyllis Lamhut's masterpiece of loss and losing, "Passing," the almost magical transitional moment of now-he's-with-us, now-he's-not -- dancing, observing, charming, reassuring, suddenly leaving -- is more than mortal. Like Amy Sue Rosen before him, the creative force was never so strong, never so life-giving, as when it was confronted with the bleak certitude of its antithesis. And never has the argument been so strongly underscored that there is, for both artist and human being, a warp in time that simply opens between a visible today and an incomprehensible tomorrow. All that's required to pass through is imagination, passion and the usual kit bag of tools.

Thanks, Homer, for showing us the way.

Love, David

-- David White


Family Affair

Homer was my brother-in-law -- although for a short time, to him and his family, I always remained a sister. I had to tell you that what you have written here about my brother is the most beautiful thing I have ever read! Thank you!

We will be having a service for him in New Orleans around May 20; this is to have enough time for his brother, John, to return to California from New York and get to New Orleans, as well as his nephew, Michael (my son) to get time off from the Marine Corps to come home. I would like your permission to share your words at his service here in New Orleans....

I must tell you that Homer was always the way you knew him -- all through school and growing up -- he was always, always on the move and on the go! And he was always telling the rest of us to "never give up your dreams" and "don't accept failure as an option." He always had a smile to share and an optimism that none could surpass. And I know that it is because of his faith in God and his love of dance that this is what his destiny was to be -- and to the end, Homer lived his life loving what he does and doing what he does best -- DANCE!

Thank you again for your beautiful words -- you and all his friends in New York and around the world are in our prayers.

-- Charlene Van Fleet

To read more memories of Homer Avila, please click here.

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