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.

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.