A Tribute ...

Dear friends,   

    We have gathered here today to honour Elle Janet Plato, to remember her fondly, to grieve her tragic death, and to celebrate what was best and memorable about her. Let us take a moment to remember her silently in our thoughts.

    I first knew Elle as Larry, and met him while I worked for ANS, like many of you. What struck me the most was his formidable storehouse of knowledge and his strong opinions. It seemed that he knew everything about everything, and would cover every last detail in discussing a topic or dispensing advice. My fondest memory, however, is shortly before Larry and I became colleagues once again, this time at the local branch of Cisco Systems which was headed by Mark Knopper. I was walking down Main Street in downtown Ann Arbor at around lunchtime, and I ran into Larry Plato, Larry Briggs and late Tim Richey. They were having lunch outside one of the restaurants. All three of them had left the ANS that had become UUNET, and were now working for Cisco. After saying hello, Larry [Plato] asked me if I would like to work for Cisco. One email led to another, and the group interviewed me over lunch. A lot of fun was poked at Larry by his colleagues, but he took it all in stride. Then someone commented to me that if I ended up working for Cisco and the code did not work, I could always blame Larry. Disagreeing, I smiled and said, "Larry's always been nice to me." Then Larry looked at me and said emphatically, "Larry being nice to you is a function of Larry liking you." I laughed it off, but he has indeed, always been nice and kind to me, and my memory of that simple, witty comment is the one that I treasure the most. By the time Larry decided to undergo a gender change and become Elle, we were no longer colleagues, but we kept in touch sporadically, mainly through facebook by way of comments to posts. From the photos, she looked happy and seemed to be doing well. I was now a full-time stay-at-home homeschooling mother, and she had moved to California and Wisconsin. I eventually left facebook, but from mutual friends, it seemed like she was doing well and nothing was amiss.

    I was shocked and saddened to hear that Elle took her own life, and it seems that one considers such a recourse only when all hope is lost for a future of lasting joy, love and peace. There is never a guarantee that these things will last, and our lives are filled with moments where promises are broken, friendships lost, our standards questioned, our limits pushed, and our faith in prevailing goodness tested in a world filled with confusion and evil. But as my father once said during one of my own dark moments in life long ago, "Ups and downs are a part of life, and it is our aspirations that keep us going in the face of failure or difficulty. So never stop aspiring, no matter what you go through in life." I pray that wherever Elle is, she will soon find peace in her soul, freedom from distress, and the miracle of love that heals all pain. I hope that she will discover wisdom, strength and inner peace to seek refuge in her own soul and have there her heaven despite whatever she faces, no matter how dark or bleak the future may seem. I believe that death is not the end, I pray that Elle will lead a better life in whatever comes next, and I hope that someday, somehow, we may meet again.

    May you rest in peace, Elle.


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