11/29/2010 11:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

A Postcard To Heaven

As the world evolves and technology grows, there are certain things I find hard to let go of. I know that on some level, just being here is in some way, about moving on, moving forward and simply letting go.

Yet whenever I travel, be it near or far, I still hold on to a thing of the past, I send postcards. Family and friends are familiar with my little obsession; it's as if I can't leave where I am until at least a few are sent. I'm not sure when it all began or why, but I do know it's now as much a part of me as taking a breath, and a journey just never feels complete until I've written a few words to someone I love ~
on a little card with a stamp.

Years ago a friend brought me to Bacara for the 4th of July weekend. It was also my birthday, and even though it was just a couple hours outside LA, it was still thousands of miles away for friends back east, so one of the first things I did was get a handful of postcards. And one of the first cards I wrote was to my friend Mariel in New York.

I met Mariel on a trip to Deal, when her older brother had invited me to spend a weekend at their family summer home. From the moment we met, we were fast friends and I will never forget the way she welcomed me with such a gentle grace and genuine kindness. She was just about 15 then, possessing qualities most people don't find until much later in life.

Over the years we shared many special talks and times, none more memorable than when we decided to ring in the New Year. We invited a handful of friends and together we hosted what has become the first and only New Years Eve dinner I ever helped prepare, and truly remember.

I was reminiscing about that special New Years Eve while I was at Bacara, and so I sent a postcard to Mariel and it included something like "You're mine this New Years Eve!!"

I made it back to New York that December, and one night Mariel and I joined two of her older brothers for a meal at Rue 57. It was at that dinner we were all suggesting where she should ring in the New Year. Jack wanted her to go with him to Colombia, Murray wanted her to go with him to South Africa and I wanted her to stay with me in New York. We all wanted our Angel Mariel.

She made the decision we all kind of knew she would, after all, Murray's zest for life and adventure was pretty much in a league of its own and hard to compete with, so South Africa it would be.

I was standing in the very kitchen Mariel and I prepared that New Years Eve dinner in years before when I got the call no one ever wants to hear about someone they love. There had been a terrible accident in South Africa, and Mariel did not make it. That tragic news found its way from one end of the line to the other and in an instant, life as I knew it had changed and my heart was crushed into a million pieces. I fell to the floor and screamed like I never had before. She was 23 years old.

I remained in New York for the next several weeks and stayed with the family in Brooklyn as endless days turned into infinite nights, lined with laughs and tears, sharing stories of our Angel Mariel, the little girl who had brought us all together.

When I returned to LA, there was something waiting for me in my postbox that remains on my wall in the corner of a mirror. She had only been there a couple of days, and although I'll never know if her journey felt complete, I do know she took the time to write a few words to someone she loved ~
on a little card with a stamp.

It read "I'm yours next New Years Eve"

As this world evolves and technology grows, there are certain things I find hard to let go of. Not a day goes by without a thought or two of my beautiful friend Mariel, who somehow, somewhere finds a way to visit me.

And if only I could, I'd send a postcard to Heaven. Especially on this day, the 29th of November, when she would have turned 27.

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