Remembering Lila Star

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In Memory of Michelle

Lila Star Smith
April 12, 1983 - March 31, 2009
 
It's so hard to believe that my neice Lila Star has been gone for four years. Not a day goes by without being reminded of her strong spirit and grace in the face of lifelong, debilitating illness.
She touched many lives, and one of them was Dr. Nathaniel Needle, a friend of her parents for whose children Lila babysat when she was a teenager. He is an EdD in music who plays jazz piano at a small bar, Nick's Bar, in Worcester, MA on Friday nights. Lila's parents, my sister and brother-in-law, Nancy and Brad, stopped to hear him play one Friday night in March on a whim, enjoyed his music though they were the only ones there, and then went again the next Friday. Dr. Nat asked if they had plans for a memorial, and when they said no, he offered to do a musical tribute to Lila at Nick's. They thought her birthday would be a good day, April 12th she would have been 30 years old. So they planned it in a low-key sort of way, requesting certain songs, invitng a small group of intimate friends and family. Then Nat got back to them with the news that Nick's would be closed on Friday the 12th, even though Nick's had never been closed on a Friday night. But somehow Robert de Niro had chosen Nick's Bar in Worcester to film scenes for his next movie, starring Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence and many other well-known actors. We all laughed our heads off, probably including Lila - the stars had taken over Nick's Bar for her birthday! Mind you, no one has ever heard of Nick's, it's a neighborhood bar in a small, mostly working class city. Of course, if the movie takes off, everyone will have heard of it!
 
So the date was changed to the next Friday, and it mattered not at all. It was a wonderful, sweet tribute, beginning with some English and Scottish favorites which we sang along with, then "Unforgettable", "You Could be Swingin' on a Star", and others. A lovely rendition of "Over the Rainbow" brought most of us to tears. Dr. Nat is a jazz pianist, so they were all slowed down or upbeat, jazzy/bluesy versions of these familiar tunes. The last song, though, was Nat's special gift to Nancy and Brad, and to all of us there who loved Lila. They had requested "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star", but he rewrote the lyrics for Lila Star. It was just perfect - from the heart, and so, so touching. Here it is.
 
Twinkle Twinkle Lila
Lyrics by Nathaniel Needle © 2013
 
Twinkle, Twinkle, Lila Star
In my heart is where you are
Up above the world so high
You've spread your diamonds across the sky
Twinkle, Twinkle, Lila Star
Everywhere is where you are

Twinkle, Twinkle, Lila Star
In my heart is where you are
Deep down in the sacred earth
Each egg, each womb, brings you rebirth
Twinkle, Twinkle, Lila Star 
Everywhere is where you are
 
Twinkle, Twinkle, Lila Star
In my heart is where you are
In every room of every home
In every dance, in every poem
Twinkle, Twinkle, Lila Star
Everywhere is where you are
 
Twinkle, Twinkle, Lila Star
In my heart is where you are
In all my memories of you
In people whom you never knew
Twinkle, Twinkle, Lila Star
Everywhere is where you are
 
Twinkle, Twinkle, Lila Star
In my heart is where you are
Just in the way this old song sounds
And in the silence that surrounds
Twinkle, Twinkle, Lila Star
Everywhere is where you are
 
Even right here in Nick's Bar.