Thursday, January 28, 2010

LOST- Part 7

In the days and weeks following Leigh’s death my life was a haze. I missed a week of work at a job I had had since graduation. My co-workers, friends, family and everyone in my life were absolutely amazing. A guy at work that I didn’t really like painted a picture of a cross in a meadow and left it on my desk with a note about how much he felt for me. I visited Leigh’s grave almost daily. She would frequently send me signs that she was with me; sometimes blowing up my skirt or shirt while at the gravesite (who else would do that?) other times with just a feeling.

The Christmas before Leigh died she and her mom took gifts to the Youth In Need Cornerstone house for girls. Leigh was devastated by the conditions in which they lived. It was bare necessity, nothing pretty, girly or frilly and that just wasn’t acceptable to Leigh. She wanted to go out right then and there to buy new comforters, pillow, towels and décor for each girl. It just wasn’t possible.

After losing Leigh it was NECESSARY for us all to have something to put our energy into. Memorial donations were made to Youth In Need with whom the Gramlich’s had been active with prior to Leigh’s death. Youth In Need decided to dedicate the Cornerstone House to Leigh’s memory and take all of those donations to make it a better place. We had so many volunteers. We painted and fixed up the house and then went to work on Leigh’s original goal. Each girl got a comforter with matching sheets in their freshly painted rooms. There was color, light and warmth and it looked like a home. We got very close to the girls living in the house at the time. Tuesday nights became our night to go over there and make dinner. Whoever could make it went. Usually it was the Gramlich’s and some of their friends, Brooke, Joanne, myself and Tommy, one of Leigh’s old boyfriends. I don’t know who it helped more, the girls that were living there or all of us. It was time together in Leigh’s memory that we all needed to move on.

As time went by, it got hard to visit the house. I lived very close to where all of the girls went to school and the director and I worried that they would find out how close I was and attempt to run away to my house. Even after we stopped Tuesday night dinner, Robin still made sure every girl was adopted for Christmas and got everything on her list. Like I said, we needed this time. Youth In Need gave us healing and we gave them a whole new and improved Vivian Leigh Gramlich Cornerstone House.


  1. Toni-
    Thank you so much for sharing these snapshots of your friendship with Leigh. I have worked at Youth In Need for just 2 years and learned about the impact and light Leigh and her family and friends brought to our clients and agency. If it is alright with you, I'd love to share this part of your series with our supporters on Facebook. Please check it out as I know they will have comments and encouragement to share.
    All my best-
    Lucy Schuering

  2. Hi Lucy! I would be honored for you to post any portion of my story with Leigh. The more people read it and see her beautiful face the longer that her memory will live on. Thanks so much!