Saturday, October 1, 2022

Seasons Passing by Frankie Parise


Dry summers past, and now at last, come crisp and autumn nights

Snow and rain will come again, as frozen winter bites

I feel the pain of snow and rain, the longer you're not here

That's my curse, and it just gets worse, and worse, from year to year

The lonely nights, and city lights, each time bring up your name

And every smell, sight, and sound, around me do the same

The chirping birds, the hollow words, that others like to say

It's all in vain, the fact remains, it won't take the pain away

The only thing that keeps me going, is your spirit, tried and true

Because I know you love me, and I'll always love you

Friday, September 23, 2022

Remembering Felix: A Memorial Art Exhibit



Remembering Felix

On the death of a friend, we should consider that the fates through confidence have devolved on us the task of a double living- that we have henceforth to fulfill the promise of our friend’s life also, in our own, to the world.

Henry David Thoreau

Felix Brow was an artist, scenic and costume designer, and window display designer living in NY when he was diagnosed with Biphasic Pleural Mesothelioma, a cancer caused by asbestos exposure, primarily occurring in the elderly. Felix was 28 at the time of diagnosis. Felix found out that his birthday, September 26th, was Mesothelioma Awareness Day during his 1-year battle with the disease. He vowed to not only fight to extend his own life, but work on advocacy to prevent this catastrophic, but preventable, cancer. Sadly, Felix lost his battle 1 year after his diagnosis. His friends and family continue to remember Felix and carry on his work.

This exhibit starts with Felix’s love of literature. Growing up in Concord, MA, Felix developed this love early in life. He remained well-read throughout his short life and found comfort in reading while he was ill. The first section of the exhibit is a book dedicated to Felix called Mandelbrot the Tree: A Fractal Story. It continues with Felix’s Lemony Snicket inspired Sour Sixteen “party” and his life-long love of Edward Gorey including his 12th birthday and Brooklyn memorial service.

The next section illustrates Felix’s love of historic preservation. At the time of his death, Felix was planning on starting the Master’s in Historic Preservation program at Boston University. His BU admissions essay is displayed with his painting of an historic house in Concord that was torn down.

The next section speaks to Felix’s thoughts on Love, Infinity, and the Afterlife. It includes a journal entry he wrote years before he was diagnosed, a quilt by his grandmother, Jill Brow, and Felix’s Love Collage.

The exhibit continues with the Art & Illness section showing works of art created by Felix while he was battling terminal cancer, and continues with memorials

Remembering Felix

Monday, March 21, 2022

A Care Guide for Whoever Inherits My Brother's Soul by Rebekah Parise


A care guide for whoever inherits my brother's soul:

1. Sometimes in the dead of night,
You may hear singing in the silence.
The whistling of the trees may become
The voices of a thousand poets.

2. You may find yourself taking
walks in the rain. You find solace there,
you find it in a lot of places.
Let the rain soak into your clothes
and don’t worry about getting the mud stains
out of your shoes for once.

3. If you feel that his soul is getting restless,
Pick up a brush and let him paint.
You will find that the soul can see things
The eye often cannot. Let him show you
How hyacinths can bloom in one's bright
Blue eyes, and how the sun setting
Is not the most beautiful image in the world.
You will find beauty where others cannot.

4. If his soul begins to weep, let him mourn.
He may miss the vessel he once knew.
Comfort him for me, assure him,
Let him write poetry again.
He feels so many things,
Now so will you.

5. You may go somewhere new and somehow,
Everything will seem very familiar.
He used to walk those streets, you sit in the
Coffee shops he used to sit in.
You may find yourself ordering a strong tea,
And wondering ‘why does it taste like home?’
It’s not deja vu, it’s nostalgia.

6. Lastly, I need you to promise me
That you will take care of him.
And if you ever see me, and wonder who
The girl is, staring a little too long,
Call me out, allow me to apologize,
And please let me explain that I thought I saw
A glimpse of my brother's ghost in your eyes.

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Felix and Starbucks

Felix's Starbucks cup from Spoleto
Front of Felix's Starbucks cup

In November of 2021, Matt Williams sent me Felix's Starbucks cup that he had left in the Prop Shop for Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston SC. I was deeply appreciative to have something else of Felix's as I've felt since he died that all of his things, as well as his very essence, are floating away as if they had all been dumped out in the ocean and they're drifting farther and farther away from me as I sit in the center of it all futilely trying to hold on to whatever I can. Instantly it made me realize how much Starbucks reminds me of Felix.



you pretentious crowd...


mumbling out loud...


you killed mom and pop,


Felix loved coffee and coffee shops, but he didn't always love Starbucks. Above is a poem he wrote as a teenager after an awkward experience at a local Starbucks. In the years after he wrote that poem, he came back around to Starbucks but there was always a type of love/hate tension. Felix's feelings for Starbucks always seemed to be equal parts disdain, amusement, and appreciation.

An Instagram post by Felix hints at his feelings on Starbucks

As has been the case for many people, semi-famously, Starbucks employees would often come up with creative spellings for Felix's name. Felix sometimes responded with amusement and sometimes by taking offense to it.

 The last year of Felix's life, from diagnosis to his death, really solidified Starbucks as a Felix association for me. It started in May of 2018 when he started weekly chemotherapy and clinical trial treatments at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in NYC. There was a Starbucks across the street and I would order on my phone app and run across and pick up the order, especially on long chemo treatment days (every 3 weeks). We would spend hours in the chemo suite drinking our Starbucks du jour, sometimes hot and sometimes cold, laughing at whatever cooking show was on the TV (usually Pioneer Women) and the My Pillow commercials.

Holding his Starbucks 2 months into treatment

Starbucks on the counter, almost done with chemo

Can you spot his Starbucks? Last chemo treatment

When Felix was admitted to Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital in November 2018, his friend Eli and I would often pick up Starbucks as a way to bring the outside world to Felix; a way to bring some normalcy to him. It all started in early December when Eli brought us Juniper Lattes to try. I don't think any of us were big fans of the Juniper Lattes but we continued to get Starbucks. Felix loved London Fog Lattes and the tea drink called a Medicine Ball or Cold Buster.

When Felix was discharged from Memorial Hospital in early December, we both got Medicine Balls, both of us still believing that he could recover enough for further cancer treatment and willing to try anything and everything to make that happen. The fact that he was completely unable to urinate even after he drank a Venti Medicine Ball was further proof that his body wasn't working properly. That was the last Starbucks he ever had. He was discharged from Memorial, in spite of both of our repeated protests, and taken by ambulance to Mercy Medical Center on Long Island 24 hours later. He died there less than a week later.

Monday, July 12, 2021

It's me, I'm Felix. I've come home, I'm so cold

 A few weeks ago, I was listening to music on YouTube, as I often do, and one of the Kate Bush Wuthering Heights videos came on. It was immediately familiar, though I didn't quite know why. As I watched the video I could see Felix doing the choreography in my head along with it. I started to sob uncontrollably.

I remembered that years earlier, Felix had made a video to this song. I was sure of it. Felix loved Kate Bush, and there was something so "Felix" about the song (aside from it being the ghost of Cathy from Wuthering Heights outside Heathcliff's window).

I searched my Gmail and found a Chat from July 12, 2012 that referenced the video I remembered. I also found a Chat from July 21, 2012 in which Felix asked if his friend Liz had watched the video, and talked about one to Metallica that he had made around the same time. But I couldn't find where Felix actually shared the video with me. 

Ever since the day the video came on YouTube, I've been doing the choreography to both the video with Kate Bush in red and the video with Kate Bush in white. I have dreams of doing a flashmob at Felix's graves, and a dance piece to it with Felix's friend Patrick. Most of all, though, I want to find the video Felix made one day back in 2012.

Here is the Chat from July 12, 2012:

Felix: aw man :(
 me: i know
  the woburn one never called back
 Felix: I'm such a dork, I've been making my own music video for a kate bush song
  all day
8:51 PM me: so are you not doing the art director gig for the movie?
  i had a really good brownie from open table
  chocolate caramel pecan
  made by dancing deer
8:52 PM Felix: dancing deer is SO good
  I love thier baked goods
 me: even after the 'best but' date
  'best buy' !
8:53 PM argh
 Felix: carmel never goes bad, haha
 me: true
  even when ou find it stuck all over the kids' bedroom floor!
8:54 PM Felix: wait, have you done that?
  jk :)
 me: yes, i just had to get sugar daddy from all over the kids' floor
8:55 PM Felix: uh oh
8:56 PM me: did i tell you another naughty quail got out yesterday?
  the other quail this time
 Felix: where did it get off to?
 me: it was standing on toys in the living room
 Felix: lol
 me: chirping and cooing
  to be put back
  he was thirsty
8:57 PM Felix: crazy thing
 me: i know
  it's so funny that it was 'calling' for me to get him
9:01 PM Felix: yeah, like: "look what I did"
9:02 PM me: yeah- almost like laughing at me
  i didn't even see him at first
  i just heard him
9:03 PM and i thought it was really loud birds outside
 Felix: are they getting very much bigger?
9:04 PM me: no
 Felix: good
 me: they're the same size
  i have to put jack to sleep now
9:05 PM Felix: okay
  im going to send you my video in a bit
 me: hopefully it won't take too long

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Excerpts from a Chat


The following is a portion of a Gmail Chat between me (his mom) and Felix while he was away at college:

Wed, Mar 4, 2009 at 6:38 PM

5:59 PM Felix: hi, how are things?
6:03 PM me: hi
6:04 PM i'm sad
  i just found out that the brother of my best friend in high school died
  i don't even think he was 30
6:05 PM Felix: oh,no. I'm sorry. That's bad news
 me: yeah- i think he had mesothelioma
  that's that cancer you get from asbestos
6:06 PM Felix: aw, man. That sounds not good
6:07 PM me: did you get your bump checked out?
6:08 PM Felix: no, i just got food and supplies for my model
  i will go tomorrow
 me: you got food for your model?
  are you keeping a pet model?
 Felix: :) no, for me
 me: oh LOL
 Felix: lol
6:09 PM i have to start my model tonight, i dont think it needs to be complete though, so thats good
 me: what is your model for?
6:10 PM i'm still picturing kate moss in a cage
  or heidi klume
 Felix: it is a design for the play "fences"
 me: see my new baaaah
 Felix: :)
6:11 PM that would be the best
  my classmates would be so jealous
 me: yeah
6:12 PM did i tell you about the show martha stewart did? the pot show? i did, right?
 Felix: yeah, i want to see it
6:13 PM me: i thought i had something else really funny to tell you
6:14 PM maybe it was just that story about the squirrel kitty
  how is myrrah?
 Felix: :)
6:15 PM me: we need to work on that book
 Felix: she was sick for a while
 me: with what?
 Felix: and now her car is dead
 me: mrsa?
 Felix: with a cold
 me: oh
 Felix: no
 me: i was just really sick
 Felix: that was a flu?
6:16 PM me: yeah i think so, some virus
  frankie is writing some stories
  the lactose intolerant spy
6:17 PM Felix: cool, i want to read them
 me: and the psychic secret agent
  and the spy handbook
  he is going to join our writing wiki to work on them
6:18 PM Felix: these sound like tv shows, he should look into that
 me: good idea

The "squirrel kitty"

me: i was thinking it would be cool to write a play, or even a musical about La Leche League
6:20 PM Felix: yeah!
 Felix: that would be fun, i think it could be like the musical "the fantasticks"
 me: frankie and i made up a funny musical the other day
 Felix: email again
6:21 PM me: it was a birthday party and each person kept breaking off from the action to sing about what they were really thinking
6:22 PM 
 Felix: thats a fun idea, That could be really funny
 me: yeah
  we should write that on the wiki too
6:23 PM i'm reading a great book on A.D.D.
  speaking of projects that i'll probably never finish
  the author runs a center in sudbury
6:24 PM Felix: hey, thats close by
 me: yeah
  i wish i could go and take frankie too
6:26 PM Felix: is sudbury like on the other side of bedford?
 me: it borders concord
6:27 PM Felix: oh yeah, sudbury road, got it :)
6:28 PM maybe someone in concord goes
6:31 PM me: yeah
  i just finished giving luke his medicine
 Felix: i've been reading the town reports
  oh, so he must be feeling better.
6:33 PM how are his ears looking?
 me: better
  which town reports?
6:34 PM Felix: concord
 me: oh cool
  the kids are doing the science fair
 Felix: fun
 me: i keep trying to get someone to do a project on breastmilk
  but so far no takers
6:35 PM Felix: :)
6:36 PM what are they thinking of making?
6:37 PM me: bekah is doing a project on electricity with brownies
6:38 PM frankie is building a laser
  and lillian isn't sure yet
 Felix: awesome
  i thought for a minute bekah was doing electric brownies
  but then i realized she is a brownie
6:39 PM 
 me: yum electric brownies
  elektra is doing a cookie project for the science fair
6:40 PM by changing ingredients
 Felix: yum

6:42 PM 
 Felix: okay, i have to work on my model now
 me: on that note
 Felix: lol
 me: TTYL
 Felix: bye
6:43 PM me: bye

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Infinity by Rebekah Parise

You died as flowers do,
Slipped away as the moon sets,
And the sun rises.
You died as angels sing
And worshippers chant.
You died the way the rain falls,
And evaporates to become again.
You died like ancient starlight,
And circling planets,
And someday you will live again
The same way.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

An Introduction by Felix

Felix homeschooled from 6th grade until he graduated from high school. The following is his introduction to one of his Oak Meadow distance learning school teachers.

Friday, May 19, 2006 at 5:05pm

Hi. My name is Felix. I forget how many siblings I have but I know there's a lot. I live in my room with my roommate Kathy-Jo. She is a mannequin. I like to eat chocolate, play at the playground, play dress-up, take pictures, run around town with my friends, roll on the floor, have laughing fits, make clothes, make movies, trade clothes with my friends, bother my mom, causing trouble/drama, parties, dancing, listening to music really loud, designing buildings or anything, run around the city with my friends and go shopping, being crazy, flirt, tech plays, snow boarding, mountain biking, and like a lot more. For music I like Bjork and The Dresden Dolls and Fiona Apple and Marilyn Manson and No Doubt and lots of other bands. Oh yeah, I like science and biology. It's fun! Plus, I'm not as bad at it as I am at most other things. Well I want to go roller skating outside now. OH wait I forgot to mention how much I like yard sales and junk. I LOVE JUNK!