Emma Bee Bernstein

My name is Sam Henry. I am greatly honored to have known and loved Emma and to speak in her memory today. Emma and I dated and lived together for over three years during our time at the University of Chicago. We traveled to Europe, were together on holidays, and supported each other with the sincerest love and care. Over the past week and a half, I have been overcome with a flood of the day-to-day memories that form the foundation of our bond. Days and things that I had long forgotten have come back with a newfound, bittersweet, and precious meaning. We shared in the trivial and the mundane, confided and overcame our fears, shared and realized our hopes and dreams, and celebrated the good things in life with one another. Although we were as children together, Emma and I grew into man and woman and loved as husband and wife, father and daughter, mother and son, brother and sister, and the greatest of friends.

Although she was always a rebel, sometimes a rebel with pink or blue hair, Emma was, deep down, a sentimental traditionalist. She was prone to tears—tears that may have been shed in love, in response to the latest Olson Twins movie, or, unprompted, by her keen sensation of the ultimate sadness of the human world. However, those of us gathered here today in her memory carry with us a remembrance of Emma's contagious joy and her love of family, friends, and dance parties.

Emma nourished and fed me and her friends and family with her laughter, her smile, her willingness to listen and her ability to cook. I remember how proud she was the first time she served her grandmother Sherry's matzah balls and barley to a gathering of friends. She wanted to share this tradition with some of her friends at school and had actually gotten Sherry to donate one of her saltshakers so that the meal would be as authentic as if we had eaten it defrosted out of Sherry's frozen stockpile with a bit of cream cheese followed by ice cream. Served with seltzer, of course. The meal was delicious even though—in Emma's words—it was more "matzah mush" than "matzah ball" soup. She was so proud to have been able to share this tradition with her new and continued friends.

Some things that Emma loved:

Nan Goldin, Sleater Kinney, sunglasses, the Met, taking cabs, road trips, Heathers, the Wizard of Oz, Giotto's angels, bagels, the Sunday Times, Coney Island, Morningstar Farms, Bollywood, Mrs. Rabbit, Gary Indiana, Riverside Park, theme restaurants, the magic hour, Mimiya cameras, biking in Hyde Park, Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere, day planners, the Pre-Raphaelites, Life As We Know It, adventures, Provincetown, Marie Cassatt, correctly pronouncing Italian foods in American restaurants…

With an unforgetting love, I bid fair peace to my and our dearest Emma.

—Sam Henry