Murder in Westwood

Deanna Maran

Deanna Maran

“Party in Westwood. No parents!”

The cell phones, like tom toms, carried the word from kid to kid across West Los Angeles on a Saturday night, November 17, 2001. Girls in low-rise jeans that showed their midriffs and guys wearing sagging shorts and rhinestone studs started aiming like heat-seeking missiles for a house on Thayer Avenue in the shadow of UCLA.

“Whose house is it? Whose party?”

“Who cares?” said Tim Livingston, as he got off a bus with five other guys and a girl, Deanna Maran. All were fifteen years old, top students and athletes from Santa Monica High School. One punched the address of the house into his cell phone and Map Quest spit out directions how to get there.

By ten p.m., more than a hundred kids from some of the best schools in the city were swarming about the yard, drinking beer and alcoholic lemonade. Deanna, who owned the exotic dark skin and long black hair of her Filipino mother and the tall build of her Czech father, argued with another 15-year-old, Sabrina Bernstein. Deanna told Sabrina to stop running and breaking flower pots. A tussle followed, which prompted Sabrina, in tears, to call her 17-year-old sister, Katrina. “You have to get over here right now,” Sabrina said.

Katrina, a blonde who looked like a starlet, drove up in a black Jeep Grand Cherokee and asked, “Who messed with my sister?” Deanna stepped forward. Minutes later, while dozens of kids were cheering, “Fight! You can take her!” Katrina stabbed Deanna in the heart with a knife that was one inch wide and at least five inches long. Deanna’s friends put her in a car and rushed to Santa Monica Hospital where at 12:15 a.m., she was pronounced dead. The following day, police picked up Katrina but she had seizures in jail and died from an overdose of Pamelor, an anti-depressant.

The tragedy opened a rift in the community about who was at fault: parents who failed to set limits, kids who were over-indulged and had easy access to drugs and alcohol, or our entire violence-addicted culture. The questions are still being fought in the courts and reflect a crisis that is playing out across the country, in small towns as well as cities. Juvenile crimes are rising–notably among girls–and people who used to worry about getting their kids into a good college now worry about getting them through high school alive.

When I learned about the murder I, like many other parents in the community, was struck with dread: “This could happen to us.” Parents are still trying to come to terms with the fact that these were girls fighting, that girls and boys cheered on the fight and in a reversal of expectation, a white girl from a privileged home killed an unarmed daughter of immigrants. Why did no one try to stop the fight? When Deanna lay bleeding, why did no one call a parent for help or dial 911? As one mother said, “This was our September 11. The shock that our kids are not safe.”

* * *

The Maran family is having brunch at their house in Ocean Park, six blocks from the beach. Harriet Maran, the mother, is tiny and lithe, wearing shorts, a bright blue shirt and matching knee socks. Her husband, Ilja, an engineer, is fit and gregarious, quick to laugh and use expansive hand gestures.

They’ve built a shrine to Deanna in front, with pictures, candles and masses of lilies and roses. Inside, the house seems to be spilling over with talk, music, visitors, food, the sounds of home repair and boxes and bags of garage sale clutter that Harriet collects. Ilja has been rebuilding the house himself for 25 years. “When the place looks perfect,” Ilja says, “that means we are moving out.”

Over the years, they also bought rental units and every weekend, they would take their four daughters and young son to work on the properties together, installing sprinklers, painting walls and fixing broken pipes. Harriet instilled in her children the importance of family. If a track meet or school play conflicted with family work, family came first, no matter how loudly the girls might protest.

All four daughters excelled in school, and at home they helped with housework but received no allowance. They were named alphabetically: Amika, Bianca, Claudia and Deanna, but they have nicknames that sound like pandas in the zoo: Bing Bing, Chi Chi, Boopsie and Lala.

Deanna, or Lala, was the one who made everyone laugh. She was cheerful, rambunctious and welcoming; kids had more fun when she was around. She once wrote, “I’m like a bullet. Once I’m fired you can’t stop me and nothing can get in my way.” She loved to write poems and rap songs, sang in the choir and played on three teams–volleyball, water polo and track. She had dozens of best friends, most of them boys, and although all were jocks, none could beat her in arm wrestling.

If Deanna had a fatal flaw, it was her toughness, her commitment to stand up for what was right. “She was the defender of underdogs, the righter of wrongs,” one teacher said. When a group of older boys at the bus stop started harassing one of her friends, Deanna yelled at them to back off. One boy punched her in the chin and she hit him back before a police cruiser arrived. Her mother worried about this and told Deanna, “Don’t pick someone else’s fight. You can’t do that in this country. Strangers are sick–they could follow you home and settle the score with a gun or a knife.”

* * *

It’s lunch time at Santa Monica High School, known as Samo. The blacks and Latinos hang out in the main quad and the whites cluster in the science quad. There’s a subtle shift in the science quad–the way the kids laugh and flick their heads with the insouciance of knowing that whatever they do, there’s a net.

One of the main reasons parents buy homes in Santa Monica, a small beach city adjacent to Los Angeles, is so they can send their kids to public school. In the L.A. Unified School District, only 13% of the students are white. At Samo, 51% are white, 32% Latino, 11% African-American and 6% Asian. Every year, Samo sends graduates to U.C. Berkeley, Stanford, Harvard and Yale. Its teachers are passionate and its music program is exemplary; the orchestra recently performed at Carnegie Hall.

“It’s an urban school, but it’s safe,” says Joy Bramlette, the assistant principal. Families range from affluent to poverty level, and the dividing line is Pico Boulevard.

Deanna lived South of Pico but most of her friends lived North, including her boyfriend, Michael Richardson. Michael has smooth black hair and soulful eyes-the kind of guy who has a girlfriend his freshman year and will always have a girlfriend. Michael’s mother, Sylvana, a microbiologist who’s divorced, hoped the two would get married. “Deanna’s the girl you want your son to marry,” she says. When Sylvana dropped her son at the Marans’ house, Deanna was often in front, washing her mother’s car. Sylvana thought, wouldn’t it be great if Michael washed my car?

Then she laughed to herself. Yeah, right.

* * *

What brought Deanna to that party on November 17? A week before, someone she didn’t know–Howie Hendler–sent a text to his friends saying his parents were going to Las Vegas and he was throwing a party. Howie was in tenth grade at the Milken Community School, affiliated with Stephen S. Wise Temple and named after Michael Milken, the former junk bond king who donated funds to build it.

When word reached Deanna and she told her mother, Harriet asked: who’s going, whose house is it, what’s the phone number? Deanna had broken up with Michael and said she was going with two friends, Russell Rathner and Todd Baynes. The phone kept ringing and Deanna kept grabbing it. Harriet was cooking, Ilja and a house guest were repairing the kitchen fan, neighbors were coming in and out. At eight, Deanna said she heard the doorbell ring. “My ride’s here! Gotta go,” and she was out the door. She’d slipped through the net.

Jerry Rathner drove Russell, Deanna and Todd to the house of James Yoo, who she thought was having the party. Jerry waited until a parent answered the door, then she waved and drove away. But the party was not at James Yoo’s. After three more guys arrived, the kids got on a bus for Westwood. Linda Livingston, a fifth grade teacher, called her son, Tim, on his cell phone. Tim, who’s tall and strong with radically short blond hair, said he was going to a party with five guys and Deanna. Linda heard Deanna laughing in the background and said, “Make sure you guys protect Deanna.”

She didn’t ask whose party it was or if a parent would be there. “It didn’t occur to me,” she said. “I knew all the kids. The party was in Westwood. If it had been in East L.A., I’d have been more vigilant.” Other parents were more flip. One mother said, “There are never parents at parties. If there were parents, the kids wouldn’t be there.”

Meanwhile, another group of kids were gathering in Westwood Village. Ryan Natale of Samo and Colin Zilberberg of Beverly High were heading for the Bruin Theater but Ryan had forgotten his wallet. What else was there to do? They called some girls who told them about the party on Thayer. Then they ran into Sabrina Bernstein, who was coming out of the Smoke Shop with a friend. Colin said, “Let’s all go.”

Sabrina, who’d gone to the Curtis School through eighth grade, was not attending any school in November. She lived in the Brentwood hills–as far North as you can go–with her mother and half sister, Katrina.

While Katrina was described as “gorgeous” and “like Athena,” Sabrina was said to be “really really nice.” A star basketball player. A great cook who could make stuffed grape leaves and pasta primavera. A vegetarian who loved animals. For her fourteenth birthday, her mother, Angelique, planned a surprise. She bought two live Maine lobsters with tape on their claws. She hired a stretch limousine to pick up Sabrina and her friends from Curtis, then took them to her club, the exclusive Beach Club, on the sand in Santa Monica. She gave Sabrina the lobsters and removed the tape from their claws. Sabrina waded into the waves and set them free in the Pacific, a misguided maneuver since lobsters do not live in those waters. A few girls cheered. One friend said later, “I’m not a vegetarian. It was kind of boring.” For party favors, Angelique gave each girl a Kate Spade wallet.

Angelique showered her daughters with luxuries. One of Sabrina’s friends said she had three mopeds, four skateboards, a mini bike and a motorized go-kart she would drive down Sunset Boulevard to Starbuck’s to buy a mocha. She had clothes and shoes that filled three closets. Friends say they never saw Angelique become angry with or discipline Sabrina. Angelique did not seem troubled when Sabrina’s grades started dropping. Sabrina told friends that she was smoking grass, but when one mother tried to speak to Angelique about it, Angelique protested that it wasn’t true.

Last September, Sabrina entered Montclair, a small private high school in the valley. During the second week, according to fellow students, Sabrina was caught smoking grass and asked to leave. The head of Montclair did not return calls to confirm this. Sabrina then started Concord High School in Santa Monica, which is perceived by many as a place for dysfunctional rich kids, “the last stop on the academic road.” The head of Concord, Susan Packer Davis/Hille, refutes this, citing the school’s numerous AP Scholars and Regents’ Scholars. On brochures, she describes Concord as “an academic haven for the serious student.” She asked Sabrina to leave after three weeks because she felt she was not mature enough for the program. “Her teachers said she was very bright and grasped concepts quickly, but she was disruptive and giddy. She brought a bunny to school. That’s something you do when you’re eight. I said, you can’t have animals in school, but she brought the bunny again.”

* * *

Deanna and her group were among the first to arrive at the house on Thayer Avenue. A handful of kids were in the back yard, including Howie’s older brother and a few of his college friends. According to the Hendlers’ attorney, Mike Magasin, the parents are “straight, squeaky clean, conscientious people who don’t drink.” But in their yard, the table was stacked with 24-packs of beer and six-packs of Mike’s Lemonade, a wine cooler which kids say gives a better buzz than beer.

By the time Sabrina and her friends arrived at ten, the booze was gone. Sabrina started playing a game with Colin, where they tripped and chased each other until she crashed into a deck railing and knocked over a pot. Deanna came up and asked her to chill, she was trashing someone’s house. Sabrina asked what she was going to do about it. They started shoving. Deanna pushed her down in a flower bed but Sabrina grabbed Deanna’s hair and pulled her with her. Tim and Todd ran up and separated them. Tim said later, “I thought it was kind of odd but, whatever. It’s done with.”

Sabrina, crying, went to a corner of the yard and called Katrina. Ryan warned Deanna, “You better be careful, her crazy sister’s coming.” Deanna was dancing and shrugged it off. “I’ve got three sisters of my own.”

* * *

Katrina, in seventh grade, was admitted to Harvard-Westlake, the most prestigious and academically demanding school in the city. Deb Hof, who was dean at the time, said she was “a sweet, bright girl,” but by ninth grade, she was angry and doing poorly in class. She matured early, had a voluptuous body at twelve and drew males to her, but she argued with other girls and felt no one at school liked her. She dated older boys, tough guys who had access to drugs. Deb believes Katrina was “crying out, doing more and more radical things so someone would step up and be the parent.” Deb tried to tell Katrina’s mother that Katrina needed clear rules and structure. “I know her mother cared and loved her, but she didn’t know how to help.” After several meetings, they agreed that Harvard-Westlake wasn’t the right place for Katrina and she withdrew.

Shortly after, Katrina was taken in the middle of the night to a lockup wilderness program in Utah. She returned in the summer and told friends she was clean. She enrolled in a small Catholic school, Bellarmine Jefferson, but the principal, Sister Cheryl Milner, says, “She didn’t come to school much. We told her parents to get help. She was slipping away.”

Katrina suffered from a severe sleep disorder and took medications. Angelique told her friends Katrina was “nocturnal.” She slept all day, woke up at five and went out at eleven to clubs and parties. After turning sixteen, she stopped going to school and said she was having “home study.”

* * *

The party on Thayer Avenue was breaking up. Deanna and about 40 others were in front, waiting for cabs or rides home. When Katrina drove up and marched toward Deanna, Tim McGrath, who’s 6’4″ and husky, recalls thinking, “`Uh oh, Deanna’s gonna hurt her.’ I’ve wrestled with Deanna. She’s strong.”

Adrenaline crackled in the air and kids came running, crowding around in a circle. Jesse Birkin from Samo said, “It’s like a sporting event. People want to root for their friend.”

Katrina, with Sabrina and two other girls beside her, told Deanna, “You should be scared, you should run.” Deanna said, “I’m not gonna run. Just listen to my side of the story!”

Fight! Punch her!

James Yoo and a friend tried to step up behind Deanna but others pushed them back. Deanna said, “I can handle this.”

Tim Livingston, who was watching intently, wasn’t frightened for Deanna. She could handle anything. At worst, she might get a black eye. He didn’t know-no one knew-that Katrina had a knife.

Bust her ass! Bitch fight!

Months later, sitting at his sunny kitchen table, Tim said, “I’d seen fights at parties before. Usually you don’t break it up. You let it happen. I was not gonna swoop in and grab Deanna to safety. She didn’t want that, and I wouldn’t do it because that’s not the way things work.” He was running a butter knife nervously over a placemat. “It’s hard to explain,” he said, “to an adult who has no idea about teenage lives.”

* * *

Pride. Reputation. Looking big and bad.

Teenagers have adopted the style, music and attitude of hip-hop culture, which is the dominant youth culture world wide. Dr. Linda Taylor, who’s co-director of UCLA’s Center for Mental Health in Schools, says that ten years ago in high school, “there was a look that said, these kids are gangsters. The low sagging pants. The hat a certain way. Pretty soon, all the kids looked that way. They’re gang wannabes, mimicking a culture that’s aggressive and confrontational.”

Teenagers in West L.A. answer their cell phones, “Whassup?” I heard young women who live behind gates in million-dollar homes talk about who’s got your back and who’s your homie. They want to have “kick-backs, where you drink, smoke and just chill.” After the fight on Thayer, Sabrina told Ryan her sister had “shanked” Deanna.

How does this use of prison slang, this wearing of gang clothes play with parents? It shocks, it pushes buttons. One mother said, “It makes me want to vomit.” Which is the point-has always been the point for adolescents. Until the party on Thayer, though, all the posing and talk were similar to the videogames they play and movies they watch: the kills weren’t real.

* * *

My assumption, when I began looking into this case, was that parents bear much of the responsibility for the tragedy. Parents who flew to Las Vegas and left their house in the care of a fifteen-year-old son. Parents who dropped their kids off at that house without asking who lived there or if an adult was present. Parents who gave their teenagers S.U.V.’s, no significant chores, a generous allowance and flexible curfew.

This group of parents who now have teens–and I’m one of them–has not excelled at setting limits. All the parenting books and therapists say we need to establish “firm, consistent rules.” They talk about being “vigilant” and “staying involved.” Linda Taylor at UCLA says kids are no longer intimidated by their parents. “Our whole culture is afraid of the teens we’ve created.”

Rae Simpson, a professor who’s head of parenting education and research at M.I.T., says that studies give us reason to be afraid. Kids in private and public schools, by the time they turn fourteen, have access to pot, mushrooms, ecstasy, crack, cocaine, crystal meth, acid and heroin. A third of high school seniors are binge drinking. Government surveys show that in twelfth grade, 35% of students–including a rising number of girls–have been in a physical fight during the previous year. Judges in Santa Monica juvenile court were hearing 19 cases a day in 1998. Today they’re hearing 60. In the face of these statistics, “being vigilant” seems a flimsy raft to cling to.

* * *

I’m interviewing a fifteen-year-old boy on the phone when his father calls him for dinner. The boy screams, “You already called three times! Quit annoying me!” The father retreats.

Why do parents allow their children to speak this way? Ilja Maran, who does not permit it, says American kids are “the most disrespectful in the world.” I hear parents tell their kids, again and again, “That’s not okay,” but I rarely hear them say “that’s right” or “that’s wrong.” Even the professionals remove judgment from any discussion of teens’ behavior by speaking of it in terms of “decisions.” They say a girl made a “poor decision,” instead of, she stabbed someone.

This group of parents did not intend to let their kids run rampant; they set out to create a better relationship with their children than they’d had with their parents. They wanted to be reasonable, supportive and understanding, to encourage their kids to develop high self esteem and acquire every tool for success. The helped them do their homework, in some cases wrote their papers, drove to soccer, went to parent meetings and read books. If they did not set firm, consistent rules, it may have been because they were not sure: what’s too lenient and what’s too strict? They agonized over where the line was, and wanted their kids to like them.

The result, according to Pam Davis, a juvenile judge in Santa Monica, is young people who don’t feel they have to follow rules because “they learned that their parents’ rules were malleable.” She adds, though, that even enlightened parents who give proper guidance have no guarantee their kids will make it through safely. “You could be the best parent in the world and sometimes it just doesn’t work out.”

* * *

The fight was over fast. Katrina punched Deanna in the chest. Deanna fought back. Another girl grabbed Deanna in a headlock and brought her to the ground, shouting for Katrina to hit her. The girl, Jhila Zarebi, later said she was trying to break up the fight and police said they found no evidence she was aiding Katrina, but Jhila received death threats and never returned to Samo.

What was wrong? Why was Deanna not moving, not making a sound though her eyes were open? Kids thought she’d had the wind knocked out of her. Not one person saw a knife. Police never found the knife but from the coroner’s description of the wound, they suspect it was a punch knife that’s held in the fist so the blade protrudes through the fingers. Katrina hurried to her black Jeep Cherokee, yelling for Sabrina to come. Sabrina hesitated, then ran back to Deanna and kicked her. Tim rose up in rage, grabbed Sabrina and shoved her away.

Zoe Blake, one of Deanna’s friends, was trying to help her stand. Come on, get up. But Deanna wasn’t moving and Zoe couldn’t lift her.

She’s bleeding!

It was dark and Deanna was wearing a navy sweat shirt so no one could see blood but Zoe felt it on her own arms. Tim and Ryan were trying to lift Deanna when Taylor Brunk, a junior from Samo, drove up to join the party. Zoe yelled, “You’ve got to help us!” She and two other girls got in back of the car. Tim and Ryan carried Deanna over and laid her on top of the girls.

“Where do we take her?”

“The hospital. Fast!”

Days later, people asked, why didn’t they call 911? The UCLA Trauma Center was five minutes away. Were they afraid they’d get in trouble?

Zoe said, “911 did not cross my mind. I didn’t know she’d been stabbed. I was concentrating on holding her head up and I wanted to get the hell out of there. We all knew Santa Monica Hospital.”

Deanna was making noises and then her eyes closed. Zoe took perfume from her purse and held it under Deanna’s nose. Wake up, please, wake up!

* * *

Around 11:30, Harriet Maran went up to Deanna’s room, hoping she’d come in the back door and gone to sleep. But the bed was empty. Harriet started writing her a note:

You are never going to leave again without telling me where you’re going and leaving a phone number. You didn’t finish taking out the trash…

Suddenly Ilja yelled from the living room. “The emergency room called. Deanna’s been stabbed!”

When the Marans rushed into the hospital, five kids were standing in the waiting room but their eyes skittered away. The nurse on duty wouldn’t tell them anything; she had to page the doctor.

“Is she alive?” Harriet cried.

“Please, have a seat in the lounge,” the nurse said.

Harriet grabbed her shoulders. “Can’t you just say if she’s alive?”

* * *

The cell phones rang all night. Everyone was crying. Everyone felt wracked with guilt. Russell Rathner, who’d brought Deanna to the party, was out on the street, driving his fists into palm trees until his knuckles were ripped and bleeding. Tim Livingston, who’d gone home with Russell, called his mother at 4 a.m. “Mom? Mom?” he rasped.

“What?” she said.

“Deanna’s dead. Mom? I didn’t protect her.”

Sunday morning, Colin called Sabrina, who was shocked. “That girl died?!” she said. Colin said, “Don’t worry, don’t think about it. Just chill.”

The West Los Angeles police arrested Katrina and Sabrina on a murder warrant at 2 p.m. Katrina had already taken what the coroner said was the equivalent of 43 capsules of 75 mg. of nortriptylene or Pamelor. Angelique Bernstein declined to be interviewed, but friends, who asked that their names be withheld, said she was furious with police–and is currently suing them–for letting her daughter die. She made constant trips to the police station and last August 4, was arrested and charged with battery on a policy officer.

The District Attorney filed one charge of battery, a misdemeanor, against Sabrina Bernstein and no charges against anyone else. A Juvenile Court judge made Sabrina a ward of the court but allowed her to stay at home on probation, requiring her to do one hundred hours of community service and pay $100 to a reparation fund.

The Marans, outraged at the lightness of the charge and the failure of the D.A. to hold others accountable, are suing Katrina’s family and the Hendler family who owned the house in Westwood for wrongful death.

* * *

A memorial service for Deanna was held in the Greek Theater at Samo High, with fifteen hundred people shivering in the strong November wind, including Howie Hendler and his father. The theme was non violence. Deanna’s sisters announced that they’d set up the Deanna Maran Scholarship Fund for Non Violence, and hoped to create violence awareness classes for schools. Lucy Suarez, a friend of Deanna’s, said, “I regret every single time that I have been around a fight and cheered it on rather than breaking it up.”

One of Deanna’s teachers, Anoushka Franke, urged the crowd not to feel guilty. “No one here is responsible for our loss, and your guilt will only increase the tragedy,” she said. “Deanna would want you to heal. If you really want to honor Deanna, make your commitment to non violence permanent.”

Her words opened a rift in the community between those who feel that everyone involved-kids, parents, families-have suffered enough, and those who want more people held accountable. The second group believe that feeling good and self esteem are more valued in this culture than moral responsibility. They were outraged at the minimal charges filed by the District Attorney’s office. A teacher who worked with Deanna in middle school said, “If this had happened in South Central, they’d have thrown a lot more kids in jail.” Another teacher pointed out that if it had happened in South Central, “we wouldn’t have heard about it. It wouldn’t be in the news.”

There was a second rift between those parents who threw up their hands and said, we can’t keep our kids in a box, we have to let them learn from experience, and parents who wanted to install global positioning systems on kids’ cell phones so they could monitor their movements.

Many of the teens who went to the party on Thayer are still waking up at night in tears, or screaming, and have not gone to more parties. Tim Livingston says, “You can’t stop yourself from having any fun the rest of your life. But now, I’ll be much more cautious. I’ll be more afraid of…like, death.”

* * *

The problem with accountability, I began to see, is that it extends with tentacles all through the community: the girl who stabbed Deanna; the friends who cheered; the parents who were not on deck; the people who supplied the beer and drugs that fueled tempers and impulsivity; the school officials who passed the troubled girl along like a hot potato; the doctors who prescribed anti-depressants for teens; and on and on to the very culture in which all this festers, the culture that glamorizes violence.

Two people who’ve been wrestling with this many-armed beast, Linda Taylor and Howard Adelman, share an office in the psychology building at UCLA. As directors of the School Mental Health Project, they coordinate research and funnel information to schools and parents. On a recent morning, Linda said, “We’re starting to have a richer understanding of the question you’re posing: how have kids from good, liberal, middle-class families gotten so derailed?” Howard said there was no easy answer because many factors have changed simultaneously. Drugs are stronger than they were twenty years ago; sex can kill; weapons are available on the Internet; kids have instant communication; parents have more money, bigger homes and more cars; and, perhaps most significantly, parenting style has changed.

Howard stood and walked to the window looking out on the campus. “Raising kids is really hard and there’s no simple fix,” he said. If parents try to be too vigilant, they risk starting a vicious cycle of escalating punishment and greater rebellion. Linda said parents need to be creative, to give kids opportunities that may be more exciting than kicking back and smoking.

“Look out the window,” Howard said. “Don’t lose sight of the fact that plenty of kids are growing up just fine.”

I watched the young people with backpacks streaming out of classes and realized he was right. Most of the kids who went to the party on Thayer would make it to college in a few years. Not all.

I thought about the ceremony held for Deanna last November on the first anniversary of her death. More than a hundred of her friends, family, teachers and coaches gathered at her uncle’s house on the beach in Malibu where she’d loved to surf. They built a bonfire, played volleyball, ate a Philipino feast, burned joss paper and made wishes for good luck in the life to come.

Just as the sun was setting, Deanna’s sisters and brother and a score of friends swam or paddled out on long boards into the icy surf. They formed a circle and talked about Deanna. Some were crying, others shouted, “I’m cold, but I don’t care! I love you, Lala!” They poured her her ashes from a ziplock bag into the sea. No one spoke for a time, and when the ashes began to sink they caught a wave and rode back to shore.

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