Sunday, May 12, 2013


I am sorry, so very sorry Carla is gone.  I will miss her as I have never missed a patient.  She will never be forgotten, never ever.  Carla, you have made me a better doctor, as you make all those you have touched better.
           Bonni Guerin
           June 3, 2012


By Danny Cupo

All of the time with you Carla, you continued to amaze us

However strong the power of your love your strength could be

And all of the time with you Carla you would just simply courageously take our breath away

We would watch you grow as a child

Sometimes gentle and sometimes mild

But all of the time with you Carla, you would just simply take our breath away

And it was all too good to let slip by

And just too good to lose

Too good to be there...just to use

We are all going to join hands and stand on a mountain top

And tell the grand news

That, that you would simply courageously take our breath away

And at all times it would just amaze us

How strong the power of your love, and courage was

And when we felt your eyes on us as we do now and forever

Carla you would simply, continuously and courageously take...our...breath...away...

Saturday, May 11, 2013

"Of two sisters one is always the watcher, one the dancer."

One of my coworkers sent me a card with a beautiful quote by Louise Gluck;
"Of two sisters one is always the watcher, one the dancer."
Whether you have known Carla and I for years or you just learned more about her in the last half hour, you know that this quote is true on so many levels.  I think that in our respective roles as watcher and dancer we complimented each other and found the perfect balance for us---the perfect twosome.  I will miss Carla more than I can even fathom right now.  I don't know how to exist in this world without her, how to be alone.  I have a feeling that I'm going to spend the rest of my life trying to figure it out.  But I do know this:  I know in my heart-- she will always be there watching me as I attempt to dance through life and that I, will ALWAYS, be dancing for her.

A few months ago, Carla, Sam and I were in the car driving in a funeral procession and Carla, in true Carla style, said to us;  "Cremate me and have a party, I don't want any of this shit."  So on behalf of myself, my parents Cathy & Nick and my husband Sam, I would like to welcome you to Carla's party.  No matter how you knew Carla you are here because you loved her and because she loved you.  To put it bluntly this whole situation just sucks, at this point there is no reason to try to justify it or find a reason as to "why" it happened in the grand scheme of things.  Every one of us would give anything to have Carla back with us: to hear her sarcastic comments, to watch bad TV with her, to text her silly things, to have a dance party with her and sing at the tops of our lungs, to have her read our children a book.  But we can't, so we'll have to settle for celebrating her in the best way we know how---with stories, laughter and love.  Thanks to all of you who helped make this celebration of Carla's life come have our heartfelt thanks and undying love and devotion.  We would like to invite you all to do some of Carla's favorite things--eat, drink and laugh.

I think that this accurately sums up this celebration of a life:

We show up, burn brightly in the moment,
live passionately, and when the moment is over,
when our work is done, we step back and let go.

Victory to our spirit, peace to all beings.  

"Every exit is an entrance somewhere else."

Sameer's remembrance June 12, 2012.

I would like to start tonight's memorial celebration with a story of a beginning.  The story of how Carla and I first met.  There are thousands of entrances and exits in our lives, some of them have little impact on us but others leave a mark for eternity.  The story of Carla's entrance and exit in my life is one that has left a mark and will have an impact on everything I do for the rest of my life.

I met Carla on July 15, 2008, her 27th birthday.  Some friends and I (many of whom became Carla's friends and are here tonight) were meeting down at The Tavern in Scotch Plains to watch the All-Star game.  As Brad and I walked in I noticed this girl (Marisa) at the bar whom I had met a few weeks prior.  I went up to say hi and it turned out that she was there celebrating her sister's birthday with some friends.  As she introduced us, Brad and I both noticed a pair of crutches leaning on the bar, and we asked if either one of them had hurt their leg.  Carla, in a non-dramatic smooth tone responded, "No, I have breast cancer and it spread to my bones."  That was my first introduction to Carla's special way of just laying it all out there.

From that night on, a bond formed between the two of us and over the next few years it grew stronger and stronger: from harassing Marisa, to acting silly at parties, to creating amazing Halloween costumes, to serious conversations about the things going on in our lives.  Carla and I became more than friends---we became siblings.

Being around Carla for the last few years showed me what real strength is and I hope I was able to reflect that back to her in the last weeks of her life.  I hope that my actions showed her how much I loved her and how important she was as a sister to me.  I found a quote by Tom Stoppard that I thought was appropriate:  "Every exit is an entrance somewhere else."

Carla, although your exit was too soon, I hope that you are making a grand and rocking entrance to the next phase and I know that wherever you are, you will continue to make a lasting impressions on those you meet just as you made on everyone in this room and beyond. 


Elizabeth, Carla's friend wrote this remembrance of  friendship.

My first memory is seeing Allison as an infant.  My second is seeing Carla.  These memories couldn't have been too far apart, since they were babies at the same time.  When I met Carla, I was 2 years old.  I was besotted with Carla, and named my doll after her---naturally, Marisa, who was closer to my age and wildly jealous of my love of her little sister, never really forgave me for it.  She still brings it up occasionally.  I believed that Carla the doll could see at night, and although she was silent around other people, she did speak to me when she had something to say.

As a mostly silent child, the real Carla also spoke when she had something to say.  Sometimes she had a patch on one eye, like a baby pirate; for a while she had Smurf's on her glasses (which was very impressive to me); always she was sucking on her fingers and paying close attention to what was going on around her.  But when Carla had something to say, we all leaned in real close and listened.  More often than not, Marisa was her voice----"Carla wants to stop playing this now," or "Carla says she's hungry and we have to go home."

I loved my three friends---they were my sisters, my constant companions, and I was theirs.  Any two of us could have fun, but three was weird (someone was always left out) and the four of us all together was what felt right.  Marisa and I were constantly rolling our eyes at the foolishness and naivete of Allison and Carla,  who were in turn usually annoyed at our bossy older-sister attitudes.

We did ridiculous things together, like buying 2 pounds of candy corn and eating it until we were sick, dropping Cadbury eggs off bridges onto moving trains, and lying on our backs in the field across the street, looking at the stars and listening to "Tennessee" on a walkman with a splitter for the headphones---one ear apiece.  We saw our first PG-13 movie together---"Peggy Sue Got Married"--- and our first R-rated ones too---"The Shining," and "Do the Right Thing," because we were film snobs even then.

And when we went to high school, we were still there---down one, the year Marisa went to college, but I still picked Allison and Carla up every morning for school (Allison always late, Carla always on time).  We got together, all four of us, every time Marisa came home, and compared notes on how and why we were different.  How things had changed.  But we were still all there.

I look at my daughter, and I think, with whom will she catch fireflies?  With whom will she play Spit and Bullshit for endless hours, and whom will she call first on snow days?  Will her childhood friends be the kind that mine are---the kind whose lives may follow different paths---but whose loyalty and commitment is never ever in doubt, even 30 years later?

It's unlikely.  I know that.  Most people don't make their friends for life at 2 years old.  And yet I keep hoping, because Saidy is young and because we don't live far from where Marisa, Carla, Allison and I made up a quartet of friends who faced things together:  bullies and sneaking candy, bad haircuts, stupid arguments and ones that really hurt.

We are not ACME any more.  Our C is gone.  But in my memory, which will have to suffice, Carla will always be with us.  My three friends and I will be eternally diving under bushes when the UPS truck is spotted, because Marisa has convinced us that it stands for United People Snatchers and we are pretty sure that it doesn't, but not totally.

The view from the Impalli front porch will never be the same.

The Letter

Amy, Carla's friend and colleague from Valley View shared some excerpts from the letter from Carla's class moms.  These moms created a quilt with the help of Carla's students and friends.  They presented this quilt to her in February of 2012.

"[A quilt] is literally warm and comforting.  It's made of a collection of little patches of love from a variety of people.  It's a connection to you from people who you have touched and changed.  People who love you in their own way, and want you to know it, to feel it, to find comfort in it.

For each child we sat quietly, and asked them about you.  We asked each of them to think of you and tell us what they wanted on their square.  They each chose the color of their square, and the designs, some stars, some hearts, some trucks.  Louise wanted to give you a bouquet of flowers, and Gavin wanted to say, 'I love you Ms. Impalli.'  I was asked, 'How can I draw a hug for Ms. Impalli?' and 'If I kiss the square, will she be able to feel it?'  So pure and warm those squares are!  They understood that you don't feel well and this thing that they have done will help you feel better.

[From your friends,] I received an outpouring of love and appreciation, who each made you a square.  These are people who know you and miss you and love you so completely.  Because of you, I have hugged and talked and cried with these friends of yours.  Although we have not known each other before this project, we've connected to each other on a completely human level, far beyond the trivial matters.  We are now connected because of you, just like the squares on your quilt.

So Carla, please accept our love and warmth and kindness, as it is stitched into all the parts of your quilt.  Thank you for being our friend and for being a loving, warm and patient guide to our children and ourselves."


Robin, Carla's friend since high school wrote this remembrance of Carla for her memorial service.

When faced with the task of reading through Carla's blog and choosing just a handful of her entries to read today, it seemed impossible-she's there speaking to us in every entry, each one a reminder of how hilarious and strong she was, how much she went through, every new piece of terrible news she received, every chemo and radiation treatment, every horrible pin prick, port insertion and stupid side effect.

We all know how hard Carla fought, every single moment of every day-that's why she entitled her blog "F*ck Cancer". 

"My mission is to kick cancer's ass (if it has one, let's assume it does).  Since I have yet to go to therapy, I figured I could talk to the inter web.  I can only hope that my witty sarcasm will translate....well, who cares, I'm just her to f*ck cancer."

My hope is that through these chosen entries we can hear Carla's voice and her laughter as she's relaying these stories to us, and not focus on the fact that she died from cancer or think that cancer beat her, but that while she was alive she really did say Fuck You Cancer!  I'm going to live my life to the fullest--no matter what you throw at me.  Only Carla could make cancer this funny.

Robin chose the entries : Narcotics and Me and Happy Fuckin' New Year!!!!!
(written July 29, 2010 and January 2, 2011 respectively)