This is a place to celebrate the life of Polly Tolonen. A young woman who lived her life with beauty, grace, talent and boundless energy. May she continue to inspire us and live in our hearts and memories forever.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

I am thinking about you a lot today on Christmas. I went to a candlelight church service last night. There were only 15 other people there because of the winter storm we were hit with here in Portland. As the lights dimmed and we lit our candles to sing "Silent Night" I thought of you. I really felt you there with me in spirit, singing the carols and smiling.
Anyway, Merry Christmas Polly. I love you.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Happy Holidays, Everyone.

I meant for these two to be one piece but it was too long for UTUBE.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Its funny how when you live with someone, they are the people you don't turn the video on very often. Polly was right there with me living the Los Angeles life and sadly, I barely have any footage of her. I did find snippets from a Thanksgiving we had spent with some friends at their apartment. The friend happened to have pet rabbits and Polly was enamored! I'm sorry now I didn't capture more of her on video than I did. But I wanted to share it with you all. It was so good to see her smiling face again.

Friday, November 21, 2008

My Sweetheart

To Polly,

Heidi, Larry, Dad, Mom and all of Polly's friends,

It is very difficult for me to speak in a public format of my late sister. My challenge is to get up every day and realize that Polly is no longer a part of my life. My connection with Polly was something that I cannot put into words. Polly was a part of my life from the beginning-along with Heidi and Larry-since I can remember what family was all about. Her death is something that I have yet to come to terms with.

By speaking publicly of Polly's accident I feel that it is confirming her death and thereby forcing me to realize the unspoken truth. Polly is gone. My baby sister. I cannot realize that. I do not want to accept the truth. It is not right and it is tremendously unfair to rob such a beautiful and talented women of her long life.. It is also unfair and not right for our family to endure yet another struggle. Mary Beth and Clare should never endure the pain they have now. You know I love you both tremendously.

There are a billion of cute, classic, heartwarming stories that I could tell of Polly, but there is one that I will share with you right here right now:

We were at the Berry Road house back in the summer of 1987 and I had just graduated from Pioneer in Ann Arbor on my way to college at Colorado State University. Heidi and Larry had since left the house so Polly and I were the last of the clan at the Berry Rd. Polly was maturing through junior high at Clague and going through her own adolescent struggles. I remember coming home one night after work that summer and seeing Polly hanging out in her room next to mine (I think she was practicing the flute) This was just before I was due to go to Fort Collins for college. Polly said, "You're not leaving, are you? Don't leave me here all alone. I don't know what I'll do without you here."

Chris Tolonen

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

John Patrick Shanley

A couple weeks ago, I was working at the AFI Film Festival. The Opening Night film was Doubt directed by John Patrick Shanley and based on his award-winning play.

A friend of mine introduced me to him at the after party and I told him about Polly. I told him about how the most enjoyable time she had as an actor was when she and some friends pooled together their money, rented a theater, and put on a production of Savage in Limbo. She loved that play. And she loved that part.

Although it probably wasn't the appropriate time to hear such a story, he was at least moved enough to thank me and shake my hand.

I never got to see Polly do Savage in Limbo because we didn't reconnect until months after they put the show on. I only wish she took it upon herself more to create her own opportunities to perform.

Monday, November 17, 2008


I'm hoping everyone will post some pictures of our Polly girl. Heidi recently sent me these and I laughed so hard. Polly and I had a "Christmas Karaoke" party one year at our place in Los Angeles. Polly being the actress that she is wanted to act out some invitation pictures of us pretending to sing. :)
Here they are.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Hoping for easier nights...

Tonight is one of those "hard nights"
as the sun is setting
I so wish I could call you.
I have taken up talking to you out loud
praying to you every night
sometimes, just sometimes
it helps.
I picture your hair and face products,
your calendar with all of your family
and friends birthdays and important reminders
I see your turtle, Goober
and always hear your laughter
still floating in the air.
When I am in this upset place
and I can not stop the tears
I remember your smile, your grace, your being
and I feel empowered.
It is not fair
you were taken from us
it is only fair that we were all blessed
with knowing you
and having you in our lives
I am uncontrollably missing
you tonight.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Frank, thank you for that video.

To be completely honest with you all, I've not cried for Polly since May. Its awful and I regret it. I guess it's easy to stay in denial of the truth from so far away.

I was jealous of what all of you had with her in CA. I was jealous of her new life, her new friends, her new interests. I was jealous that her new life no longer included me. Or coming home to Michigan. Or calling me. Or emailing me. Or writing me. Maybe I was mad at her for leaving. Maybe I was mad at her for forgetting me.

Maybe I was not the friend she needed me to be.

I didn't cry for something that I didn't have. Now, I find myself crying out six months -six years- of tears for something I know I won't ever have the chance for in the future.

I do miss her.

I miss the opportunity to continue that friendship that started so young and was supposed to last a lifetime.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Polly planned a trip home to visit friends and family, around Fall of 2000. She asked me for the tapes of our trip to the Grand Canyon, to show everyone who she was spending her time with in Los Angeles. I didn't want to put everybody through the agony of having to sit and watch hours of footage of someone else's 'family slideshow'. I kept putting her off, thinking Polly would forget and the Michiganders would be spared. Polly didn't forget.... Sooo, the night before her trip, I sat down with a 6-pack, in my cramped koreatown apartment, and tried to make the tapes interesting enough for others to watch. I forgot the exact point of the tape around beer #5, and instead started creating a tape that would show Polly how I felt about her.
Before Polly and I started dating, it began to look like we weren't going  to figure out how to get together.  We were sorta stumbling along as friends.  I felt like we were running out of time.  I remember standing in my mother's living room, one afternoon, listening to this song (which was the most beautiful  I'd heard), pleading, through my tears, with God.  "this is the last woman I intend to date.  Please help me."
When I dropped Polly off at the airport, I gave her a few tapes to show everyone.  I edited, at breakneck speed, a few of our different trips and gave her copies of each.  I didn't tell her what was on them, just that these were the tapes she has asked for.  When she returned, she smiled and hugged me, and said, "Thank you".  She had written on the tape I'm uploading, "My Favorite".  So, this one is called 'Polly's Favorite'.  

In the daydream moments, thinking about our futures, I wondered if we would someday get married.  If we do, I laughed, I hope we dance to that song.  
I really miss you, babe.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

my sister, my love

If anyone saw Oprah yesterday (10/28), then I hope you were touched as much as I was with this song and amazing performance. The only problem was that I couldn't help giggling through my tears as I remembered hearing about and later seeing pictures of Polly dressed up like Celine on Halloween....

PS. The song is too long to download here. If you get the chance go to and enter 'celine dion sings my love' into the search browser -- you won't be sorry. Polly would love this and you will think of her....

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Not a day goes by...

That I am not somehow reminded of her. Yesterday I was working (I work as a receptionist for a small hair salon part-time). There was only one person getting her hair cut and I was doing some cleaning. We had both doors open to get a breeze going. Then I hear "Hi puppy" I turn around and a small Jack Russell dog had come in on its own and just sat there staring at us. Then it left. I went outside after the dog and realized that there was no owner near it. I went up to the dog and looked for a collar, only to find one without any tags on it. The dog was very docile but obviously was walking around aimlessly as if it was lost. I had one of my co-workers hold onto it while I started going door to door in the neighborhood asking if anyone knew whose dog this was. I went up to this house and knocked on the door, waited until a woman answered and she she said "Yes?" I asked her if she had a white dog or does she know whose dog this is. She was puzzled and went over to the dog (who was being held at this point very contently) The woman said "Oh, she's my dog, How on earth did she get out?" "Where did you find her?" We handed the dog over to the very relieved owner and asked her what the dog's name was. She looked at me and said "Polly, her name is Polly"


Sunday, October 19, 2008

an emotional day

While I was still asleep Eavan came running into my room to inform me that "the tooth fairy didn't come last night!" oh shit....! While I was sitting there trying to make some excuse as to the tooth fairy's shortcomings, I noticed that once again my girl was missing lashes from both of her eyes. As I questioned her trying to determine if this behavior was the result of an underlying emotional problem, I couldn't help but wonder if she's still trying to deal with the death of her aunt. Shortly after that she showed up weeping because her sucker fish had died. This aquarium and the fish in it were given to her from Nick's girlfriend, Rachel, whom Eavan totally adores and the sucker fish had been her favorite. Never have I seen her cry and cry like that and all I could do was hold her and cry with her. We made it better by going to LibbyLu and finding a way cute Halloween costume. After that we went and saw The Secret Lives of Bees and once again we were both sobbing and holding each other. I don't want to spoil the movie for you, but there was a part that hit very close to home for us. When we got home I called my brother back and once again I ended up getting upset. I watched two of my favorite shows - Desperate Housewives and Brothers and Sisters and once again ....tears-a-flowin. The latter reminded me of how volatile these relationships are and can be but also how truly special. I'm just sad.....:(

Friday, October 17, 2008

The night at Genghis Cohen

One of the last times I saw Polly was my show at Genghis Cohen in Los Angeles on April 11th, 2008.  I was playing with a band that came down from Portland, OR to play two shows.  One at Genghis Cohen, the other at Molly Malones.  This was an important couple of dates for Polly as she assured me she would be at both shows.  She even cleaned up her tiny apartment and made arrangements for herself to sleep somewhere else so that part of the band could spend the night at her place.
It was about show time (I had driven in a van many hours to get to LA and I was exhausted) Polly was on my mind as I was expecting her to sit in the front row and cheer and yelp like she did maybe even saying "play Fine"  her favorite song of mine or shouting a Woo-hoo and I would say back "thanks Dad" to the audience for a chuckle.
As I hit the stage and started playing the show I realized I hadn't seen Polly yet.  My nerves and excitement for the show got me through and after my last song I packed my guitar and gear up.
As the band made their way in to the lobby/bar area to say hi to people afterwards, the front door comes flailing open.  It's Polly- standing there with windblown hair, red-cheeks and she looks me straight in the face and says "I'm sorry I was at the Dodgers game and I couldn't remember where I parked my car.  I spent almost an hour looking for it knowing the whole time I was missing more minutes of your show."  We stared at each other for a second and then she said very excitedly "so, what are we drinking?"  A hug later and no more apologies were ever brought up.  We ended up going to a party in Santa Monica that night and spending most of the night catching up.  I even played an impromptu concert for her.
I love telling this story because it is so Polly.  Don't get stuck on the negatives or the what-ifs but just live for today and for the now.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

A place for us all to post

I wanted to start this blog for Polly.  My friend, my L.A. sister.  There are so many days and moments that I think of her and always with a smile.  Polly and I laughed more than anything else.  I want to be able to share and have others share stories, memories and video of her wonderful life.  Polly touched so many people in her time here and I want to be able to have a place were we can all post memories, stories, thoughts, videos...all things Polly.