Angel Oramas’s Philadelphia-based family of friends celebrated his life and mourned his tragic loss today at the Academy of Music. In his most frequented rehearsal hall, with choral selections and beautiful readings performed by his friends, nine planned speakers, and an invitation for anyone to share reflections, our friend received a worthy send off for such a genuine and well-loved man.
Still, I weep for Angel even now. I have an Angel-shaped knot in my back and headache. I want to tell him to come back and simultaneously yell at him for leaving. Nobody knows why Angel Oramas chose to die last Wednesday. Perhaps that doesn’t matter anymore now that he has gone; however attending today’s service, one could easily see how much this honest and giving tenor mattered to everyone who packed the large rehearsal hall and so many who sent messages of love but couldn’t attend.
We shared the sentiments of one of Angel’s co-workers from the Einstein Medical Center who told his life-sized photo, “I’m so angry at you, Angel” but rejoiced in the knowledge that he had touched each of our lives. When his friend from college said, “If Angel was rude to your face, it meant he loved you,” I at once understood the early years of my acquaintance with this blunt man who couldn’t quite tolerate me as a young, clueless, ultra-conservative and seemingly judgmental college kid who thought she knew everything. Working with him later in life at the Opera Company of Philadelphia, he gave me a chance, treated me with his signature mix of snarky humor and kindness, and acted as a bit of a barometer for my own personal growth.
Mark Malachesky, one of his closest friends, bravely addressed us as we alternated between laughter and tears at the end of a long period of speakers and their reflections. He said that even if one didn’t know Angel, Angel knew him. Incredibly intuitive, Angel really did see past all of our masks, walls, and barriers to the deepest core of our hearts. I only regret that nobody could have seen past the final mask he wore before deciding to end his own life. Although I never shared in his parties and missed seeing so many of his recent physical and emotional transformations in person, knowing Angel these fourteen years has added to the substance of my life, and I wish I could know him better and for many more years.
To our Angel: I will miss you and your sweet, golden voice. Since you apparently also loved The Golden Girls so much, “thank you for being a friend.” Thank you for giving me odd looks, confronting me, and not letting me get away with judgmentalism or too uptight an attitude. You never allowed me to feel comfortable in my insecure actions or unfair thoughts towards myself or anyone else, and I owe you in part for guiding me toward a more balanced and loving existence. I may not have always understood your sarcasm, but your constant dedication to unfiltered honesty infiltrated me in spite of myself. Because of that, whenever you complimented and supported me, I treasured it as a precious and sincere gift…
And so you were too. Thank you for your gift of friendship and the fourteen years we shared. I rejoice that in our last correspondence, we delighted in each other’s accomplishments and happiness; yet, we had such a short time together in life, and I regret spending far too little of it listening to, learning from, and hearing you. Though many knew you better than I, you did understand us all. Oh, that you hadn’t left us so soon! Rest well from your burdens and know that in the end, you have a family of friends who love you fiercely and will always miss you.