Marilyn Henry was my straight arrow–a dedicated and passionate supporter of Holocaust survivors’ rights, and we had lots in common. We were both journalists writing on similar topics, and we cared about the ethics of our profession and the ethics of restitution. We were equally frustrated with the politics of the situation, and covered these important, emotional and difficult issues in our own unique styles. We both knew the “players” and their personalities and shared stories, many of them poignant and humorous, many of them maddening. She also knew how to stay calm in the face of a tempest.
We were friends–not bosom buddies, but close enough that no topic was really taboo–and that even after long lapses, we could take up conversations in the middle. She gave wise counsel, often offered a different perspective. We had fun with each other, and I most enjoyed watching her lecture on looted art, which she loved to do.
When I first met her, more than 20 years ago, she had long, luxurious, thick, dark curly hair that fell well below her shoulders.When we had time (and it was rare) we would meet for a coffee and talk. We spoke the same language. She was bold and forthright, stood strong for her ideas, and most importantly, she was fiercely protective of her family and they of her.
A few months ago, Marilyn made an important decision about her life and how it would end. We discussed it, and she inspired me to do certain things. When she cut her hair because of treatment, I cut mine in solidarity with her and she understood that. (I will keep it short.) She also showed me how end of life issues are not decided at the last moment. She wanted to spare her family the agony of watching her try at all and any cost to hang on to life, and let us know about it. Following her noble example, I filled out an advanced directive, because I knew in my soul and in my heart, that as always, Marilyn was doing the right thing because it was the right thing to do. I will miss her. May her memory be a blessing.