MY WEEKLY BLOG
FIRE AND ICE
I got home one day, it was 1987, and I checked my voice mail. “Hello,” a deep woman’s voice said, “My name is Olympia. I’m an actress, and I just finished reading your book, Awakening the Healer Within. I wonder if we could meet.”
I stared at the phone. There was only one Olympia on myradar, the woman who had won an Oscar a month earlier and she was so humble, she introduced herself as “an actress.” She left a number for me to call and when I did, she was at the other end of the phone. I invited her for tea at my house and a few days later, there was a loud knock on my door. I would quickly learn that everything Olympia Dukakis did was loud. I invited her in. “I was moved by your healing experiences in the Philippines. You were so honest, I felt like I was there.”
There was no time for me to be intimidated as we began talking like we already knew each other. When the first first fifteen minutes
of our visit had gone by, she had laughed, cried, shouted, petted my cat and moved her arms around with abandon. I saw immediately that she was a presence that demanded my full attention and the hard cold truth about everything. She was fire and ice.
Our relationship expanded from there. I never met anyone who
was more alive and present in her body. Each time I was about to meet with her, I felt slightly nervous because being with her demanded authenticity and undiluted honesty. Our visits were like a whirlwind. She asked me to give her a crystal healing and when my cat started climbing on her prone body, she wouldn’t let me move her away. We ate at a Greek restaurant and she read my tea
leaves. We wrote together. We met in Central Park and walked in the snow together. We cooked dinner at her rented apartment and she told me stories about Innana, the Sumerian Goddess of fertility, love and war, and her journey to the underground where she was stripped of everything, she was bare bones, until she reclaimed herself and found her way back. Each time I left her, I felt like bare bones, stripped of anything extraneous.
Olympia never stopped acting, it was in her bones, but at
the same time, she dedicated herself to helping women find the strength and courage to speak their truth. I helped her put together a workshop for women in which she spoke about the silencing of women that had gone on for eons. She made it clear that women needed to find their voices and use them, loudly and
clearly. She was the model for that, someone who refused to be silent and who loved women so deeply, she offered her time and energy to showing them how to find themselves and show the world who they truly are.
I had a dream a few months ago in which Olympia gazed into my eyes and said, “I love you.” I sent her an email describing the dream and she sent one back that said, “Your dream is true.” That was my last communication with her. She taught me so. I was so fortunate to know her intimately and when I’m afraid to speak up, I see her eyes, I feel her strength, I see her fire and ice, I open my mouth and say what’s on my mind. I think about her Moonstruck character, Rose Castorini, that won her an Oscar. Rose was standing outside her apartment after dinner with a man who was attracted to her. She
told him, “I can’t invite you in because I’m married and because I know who I am.” That was Olympia in a nutshell. She knew who she was and she showed me who I am.
When I think of her death, as much as I miss her, I know that she is
still around. She was far too alive and animated, sensual and hilarious, vulnerable and stubborn. It makes me certain that we go on in a different form after we die, because Olympia Dukakis can never be snuffed out. She lives in every woman’s valiant attempts to be completely and unequivocally heard and seen for who they truly are. May she always see the sun and may she rest not only in peace, but also in the fiery ball of energy that was and still is