Several years ago Giovanna Capone approached us with an idea for an Anthology. We said, sounds great, and the result was the amazing compilation of forty-two stories called Dispatches from Lesbian America.
One author who was gracious enough to contribute was Elana Dykewomon. Her piece, an excerpt from her memoir, is about her attempted suicide at age 11 and her recovery. It's one of those pieces of writing that, to this day, I still think about. In fact, I was so taken with the excerpt that when I found myself sitting next to her at a reading from Dispatches at the sadly now-defunct Laurel Book Store in Oakland, California, I asked her what her plans were for publishing the memoir, and, of course, we'd be very interested it. Sadly, her wife was going through terminal health issues, and she didn't know when she would finish it. I don't know if she ever did finish it.
Elana Dykewomom left her remarkable life on August 7 at the age of 72. She was in hospice care in her home for esophageal cancer. The circumstances surrounding her death has the same dramatic flair that shone through in her memoir excerpt. To quote her New York Times obituary:
"Ms. Dykewomon was in hospice at her home with friends, preparing to watch a live-streamed performance of her first play, “How to Let Your Lover Die,” when she died, 20 minutes before the performance began. The play is a rumination on love and loss that she wrote following the death of Susan Levinkind, her wife and her partner of many decades, from Lewy body dementia in 2016.
"The afternoon she died, friends, neighbors, and family members viewed her play on Zoom before calling the authorities. When mortuary workers came for her body, they filed out silently behind them, Rhea Shapiro, a longtime friend who was present, recalled. As the body was placed in the van, those assembled broke into spontaneous applause."
You can read about her life in the New York Times obituary.