Cecily was my dearest friend in life for 18 years. In fact, the word "friend" sounds trite. Cecily was my family. We shared so many mini-adventures over the years, and rarely a day passed when we didn't speak. We comforted each other during moments of personal despair. We occasionally drove each other to despair. When Cec once gave me a personality test and scored it in gleeful delight as she anticipated telling me all of my faults, she was aghast to announce that I had a personality identical to her own. She was convinced that there had to be an error -- after all, I was so stubborn. In later years I was forbidden from ever raising the subject of the ill-fated personality test. Once while finding ourselves on independent assignments that overlapped for a few days in Chicago, we had a small disagreement one evening on our way to "Riverboat Gambling" and never got there. I later said to Cec that after she was feeling better from treatments for her lung cancer, we would have to fly to Chicago and finally go. She smiled and said "That's a deal." But things just didn't work out as we'd all planned.
I met Cec and her sister Stacey (who is also family to me) when we were all wet behind the ears, thrown by fate together into making a Roger Corman feature shot in the Philippines in 1986. I directed the film, Cec and Stacey cast. While I would gleefully remind Cec that I took credit for her first Casting Director job, she would counter that it was actually Stacey that brought her into it :-) Cec had an impish need to be contrary .. it always gave her delight to have the last word. And I actually grew fond of allowing her to have it ... it would bring a big grin to her face. (I said to her recently "Cec, I think you actually enjoy being contrary." She thought, smiled her little Mona Lisa-like grin, and said softly, "Yes... I think you're right.") It is so ironic that the one person who more people thought the world of than anyone, was always so insecure of whether people valued her opinion. It was only in the last years of her tragically short life that she was forced by the circumstances to start to accept that her opinion (and her talent) really did matter to the world --- in fact people sought it ... gladly paid for it.
With the arrival of Maddie, Cec had actually pieced together all the elements of her own happiness. She always referred to her wedding day to Jim as "the happiest day of my life." She had done a body of wonderful work as a film and TV actress, and in stage and improv in LA, and was an international cult-figure from her role as "Moogie" on Star Trek DS9, delighting in attending worldwide conventions and autographing pictures. Cec had a job that she loved, casting major network TV series, pilots and independent features. She would still perform in or direct an occasional play as time permitted. She had more friends than anyone could imagine, all of whom loved her and thought the world of her. Cec and Jim had started construction on a house in the best school district in LA for Maddie, and within one block of Cecily's job so that Cec could walk to work. Cec had a large hand in designing her 'dream house'. And when Maddie was not speaking as well as she should have been at age 2, Cec moved very quickly to enroll Maddie in all sorts of special classes at the Child Development Institute --- and then herself tirelessly continued that therapy at home around the clock. Even when Cec wasn't well enough to attend the classes, I would take Maddie and then Cec would supervise the home part of the therapy from her bed. A year later, all doctors agreed that Maddie was going to be just fine. To Cec, Maddie was always "Perfect," her "Angel."
Of course, there are also many others who rightly consider Cec to be their best friend. Cec was like that. Her capacity to give to others was enormous. Many of us joke about how stubborn and assertive she could be at times, but Cecily had the kindest, most gentle soul of any human being alive. She had absolutely no "agenda" --- other than to find her own happiness. Cec would not have stepped on the toes of a fly --- and she would have found it confusing and troubling to understand why anyone in this world would want to. She was a true Renaissance Person, dabbling in every possible form of the arts, and she excelled at whatever she undertook. Cec was the only person whose opinion I valued 100% ... I called her my "secret weapon." My life changed forever on the day that I met her, and I am grateful for every moment of that 18 years. My life has also changed forever with her passing, and I am not ashamed to admit that the thought of the future without Cecily is unbearable to me. Even with some Grief work, the tears will still flow freely. I know that so many other people share this.
It is impossible to express the feeling of losing a loved one on paper, (although the archive of Jim's nightly e-mails comes as close as anything ever written). And the ordeal of Cecily's medical struggle for over 4 months, which I was a constant part of, will always haunt me. She fought so hard, endured so much, and deserved to have had more time. And she kept herself going by thinking of Maddie and Jim. Of being with them for the longest possible time.
Not a moment goes by when I don't think of Cec, and yearn for her earthly company. Not a moment goes by when both the joy of having had her in my life for almost two decades, combined with the sorrow that I will never be in the company of her earthly incarnation again, brings tears of dual meaning to my eyes. I loved Cecily as my dear friend and family more than could ever be written about, and Maddie is one of the most important members of my own family. I would die for Maddie, as I would have for Cec. If I could have traded places with Cec so that she and Maddie could have continued to be together, I'd have done so in an instant.
I hope that as new elements are frequently added to this site, it will act as a healing pathway for all of us who continue to hold Cecily close in our souls and who cannot bear the thought of being without her here on earth, and so that Maddie will come to know everything about her wonderful Mama. Please write something about Cec on the "thoughts" page for Maddie to read someday. Thanks.
Although I am soley responsible for the content of this site, I am grateful to others for their contributions, and to Cecily's family and husband Jim for their encouragement. And I am grateful to Maddie for just being here .. and for expressing such happiness and a pure love of life. Maddie has inherited Cecily's gentle and kind soul (with indications of possible stubbornness), even though Maddie is a completely independent person unto herself. Maddie is Cecily's greatest legacy.
Mark Sobel firstname.lastname@example.org (818) 763-5428
PS-There is also info on this site about the ongoing FUND FOR MADDIE set up by Theater West.
Addendum - March 2, 2006: Tomorrow is the second anniversary of our loss of Cec. It is hard to fathom. In all this time I have not been able to post the materials as quickly as I'd hoped to ... especially a great amount of video of Cec and her stage work, including brilliant improv comedy. Sometimes it is just too painful; I am too realistically reminded of the great talent that was taken from the world far before her prime, in addition to the dearest human being that I've ever known. But over the months and years ahead it will get done. And I am also starting an oral history project for Maddie, videotaping those who knew Cec telling Maddie about her Mom. At age 4 1/2, Maddie stills looks out the window, hoping to find her mother. Someday I hope that I will be able to help Maddie to metaphorically reach that goal. Maddie is a most special child, and I love her as my own family. If you knew Cec and would like to be included in this undertaking, please e-mail Mark at email@example.com. Especially if you knew Cec from long ago.
New Years Day, January 1, 2007
It is very hard to accept that almost 3 years have past since I last saw Cec. She has not been out of my thoughts, or the thoughts of those who love her, for even an instant, though. I am very pleased that this site has been so helpful to so many people, and I am grateful for the e-mails that still arrive from people that I have never met. I am also glad that this site has helped to re-connect old friends of either Cecily or her family who have lost touch. I had planned by this time to have an enormous amount of Cecily's stage, TV and film work available as streaming video ... and I still plan to do so ... but at this moment it is still too painful to go through the 18 years of video, but it will happen. Someday when Maddie is old enough to surf the web, I want her to be able to tune into the wonderful work that her mother did when she wasn't busy being Quark's Moogie :-) And sometime in the years ahead I hope to have the energy to mount a campaign to have a star on the Hollywood Blvd "Walk of Fame" in LA dedicated to Cecily, near that of her legendary father Don Adams. Although her life was tragically short, the work that she did as Ishka on Star Trek: DS9 has inspired millions and millions of fans worldwide, and will continue to do so forever.
Thanks for visiting Cecily's website. Bookmark and come back often.
Mark Sobel 1/1/07
August 31, 2008
I just had a poignant conversation on the phone with Marie, a friend of Cecily's Mother Dell. Dell has just recently gone into a retirement home (in Palm Springs) with the early stages of dementia, something that Dell's Mother Rose had. Dell's friends from Las Vegas call me from time to time to ask how Dell is doing. During the conversation, Marie mentioned to me that she herself was a lung cancer survivor, but still had a smoking addiction. She said that she recalls very clearly that in the last conversation she had will Cec, (before Cec knew about her own Cancer), Cec said to her "Marie, if I had cancer, the last thing I'd be doing is smoking." It was not long after that Cec was diagnosed. Cec had smoked in college, but had long since stopped.
Marie said to me that if she could have traded her life for Cecily's, she'd gladly have done so. She said to me "I'm 82, I've had my life. Cecily didn't have her chance." And I knew what she meant. So many of us would have traded our lives for Cecily to have been able to live and be with Maddie.
Marie told me how many times Cec's Mom had told Marie how much I loved Cec as a friend and how much Cec loved me as a friend. I had to fight back the tears.
There are many new drugs in trial for dementia, and I hope that it may be possible to get Cecily's Mom on one of those. Dell had taken care of her own mother by placing a hospital bed in her own livingroom. And Cecily had planned to build a small guest house in the backyard for her mother Dell to live in, so that Dell could walk Maddie to school. That was Cecily's dream. And I know that in the back of Cecily's mind, she was also thinking about being able to take care of her Mother the way she had seen her Grandmother cared for.
I told Marie that Maddie had just turned 7, and Marie commented on how quickly the time has gone. I agree. I think it is because for all of us who love Cecily, she is still right here with us and always will be. E-mails at firstname.lastname@example.org are always welcome; I share them with Cecily's family. Or call me at (818) 763-5428.