Sylvia Hullinger died on October 3rd 

from natural causes. She was 63 years old.

She leaves behind a daughter and son, 

a granddaughter, and many dear friends. 

Her legacy is one of vibrancy, expression, 

forward motion, and love.

Plant New Seeds in the Melody · Oil and acrylic on canvas · 5 X 7 in

Love With Fine Print · Oil and acrylic on canvas · 24 X 30 in


Paige Dunn 

I shake her, slap her, scream in her face.

How the hell do you do CPR!? 

I pound her sternum, press my mouth to hers and blow — 


I remember inflating her cheeks like this. 

She held the air in: cheeks ballooned, eyes popped, hands flopping hilariously at the wrists. 

Laughing, squealing, I clapped her cheeks and the balloon burst with a gush. I saved her. 

She's dead — Oh god. What do I do? Who do I call? Dad? Ryan? Her doctor? 

Do I google crematorium near me? Oh god. 

Does someone pick her up? Do I drive her somewhere? 

What if I get pulled over and the cops see my dead mom 

crammed in the back seat of my Corolla and think I’m a murderer? 

I called 911. Laney Spencer dared me, and so: Beep. Boop. Boop. 

Sullen adults looked down at me: my mother, an officer. Laney had long since deserted.

"You do not call 911 unless it is an emergency, Paige!"

I saved no one.

I call 911. This is an emergency.

Someone please tell me what to do. 

My mother is dead.

You win, mom. There's nothing else I can say. 

All these words in my lungs will reabsorb into my body. 

I will continue carrying them, unmanifested, in my bones, my organs, my blood. 

They will fuel no discussions, no compromises, no agreements to disagree — 

Is that what you wanted from me? A total surrender? 

Well, fine. You win, but you cheated.

I Can’t Disclose Details · Soft pastel on paper · 18 X 24 in


Julia Michaeletti, LPCC

Sylvia was complicated. She first came to see me in 2004 when she was working through 

some pretty intense trauma from her childhood. 


I can't disclose details. Confidentiality is honored even if a patient is no longer living. 


I can say I'm not totally surprised that she's gone. She burned the candle at both ends. She created extreme intensity in her life, she invited extreme intensity — extremely intense things happen when you do that.

Things Have Changed · Oil and acrylic on canvas · 37 X 37 in


Everett Dunn 


Married in '76. Divorced in '88. 

My baby left me on a Friday night. Ha ha.

She changed her name back too, just to twist the old knife. 

Told me she was Dunn with it. Ha ha.

Too much screaming and fighting. 

That’s no way to raise two little kids. 

Sylvia could make you feel that tall if she wanted.

She could bite right where your skin was thin.

She was lovely 90% of the time and I'm 90% decent

but that last 10% was what we had to give each other. 

I was half the problem, make no mistake. 

She always said, our bodies understand each other. Our brains do not.  

For all she was a free-thinking, open-minded intellectual, 

Sylvia had blind spots a mile wide. 

You can divorce your way out of certain relationships — others you can't. 

She could see Ryan in the same way she could see herself

but she was blind to Paige in the same way she was blind to me. 

Always check your mirrors, baby, or you'll crash and burn. Ha ha.

It’s been a long time ago now. 

The last time I saw her was our granddaughters Gwen's birthday. 

I thought it was a hot idea to bring my girlfriend — 

introduce my honey to the family — some ideas blow up in your face.

Gema (turns out) is Sylvia's accountant. Has been for fifteen years. 

(My mathematician mama is my baby's number whiz.) 

We laughed. Tried not to make it a big production, but —  it kinda changed things. 

Gema knew. Of course she knew. Sylvia swore she didn't. I didn't. 

I'm thinking: what does a woman say about a man when there’s no more allegiance? 

What does she confide when she’s not protecting her pride?

It really changed things. 

I'll miss my baby, but I'm missing honey more 

even though she's sitting right here beside me — alive, 

an invisible link between us has died.

Once more Sylvia’s made me feel that tall.

She’s bitten where my skin is thin.

I have my blind spots too.


Gema de Nuñez, CPA


"How did you know Sylvia?"

“I was her accountant for nineteen years. I managed her business taxes.”

“Oh my goodness. I didn’t realize she had a business. What was it?”

“It was a non-profit. The Movement Movement —  a community dance ensemble."

"Oh, that's neat. That sounds just like Sylvia. "

"Yes. Sylvia was a very good person. Very artistic. She wanted to give women a way to — what is the word? — autoexpresión. Yes. Self-express. It was very beautiful. She really believed in women.”

“I've always wondered how something like that stays afloat? Did she charge tuition or something?”

“No, no — she refused. She relied on mainly grants, donations, that kind of thing. And of course ticket sales. But not so many people want to pay money to see ladies rolling on the floor, wiggle their arms, make faces like this. Very strange things. She just covered costs. She never paid herself anything. She actually donated a lot of her own money to keep it going. It was legal, of course. Just legal.”

“Oh. You must be good at what you do.” 

“Well — they call me la Reina de los Deducciones Fiscales. The Write-off Queen. I have many, many non-profit clients. St. Matthew owes me big time as my priest says.”

“Oh, that’s funny. And is that your husband?”

“Oh, no. That is — Sylvia’s ex-husband.”

 “Oh, I’m sorry. I thought — sorry.”

“No problem. I am Colombian. We love drama. But — there is a limit.”


The Way I Remember You · Oil and acrylic on Canvas · 16 X 20 in

Trajectory · Oil and acrylic on canvas · 30 X 40 in


Andrew Williams 


Mama’s sister Sylvia died 

and there are people crying,

those with regrets and memories

both good and bad no doubt


But all I’m thinking is who was this lady

that mom hated so much she

cut her face out of that old wedding snap I found in a box — 

but not the face of my father who cheated on her and peeled off like a bandaid?


They say she danced. 

They say she loved Miles Davis.

They say she told a good joke.

That's legit. 

Mama never told me any of that.

All I know is that mama’s sister Sylvia 

left her nephew Andrew a fat stack of cash

for his college education.

Young man, young man

you're going places.

Young man, young man

you've got a promising trajectory —   

But I don't need a dead Aunt Sylvia.

I already have mama in my corner. 

She put in the hours and the overtime, thanks very much!

Get me out of this crazy catfight crossfire.

Take back this loaded lotto ticket. Take back your hard poison. 

I've got this.

Oh, but young man!

You are going places.

You're aimed high.

Nothing comes easy, even when it does.


"Unfortunately, I didn’t know Aunt Sylvia very well myself

so it has been a real pleasure to learn more about her today from you all.

In a strange way, a funeral is a nice way to get acquainted with someone. 

You learn the best, most essential things about them

and all the painful parts are put into a broader perspective.

So thanks everyone, for sharing.”


Just So Typical · Soft pastel on paper · 18 X 24 in


Mary Eager-Williams

This is so typical of Sylvia. She got these theatrics from her father, by the way. 

We have different fathers. She's only half-blood, for the record. 

She was incapable of being subtle. It was always "Me me me! Look at me!" 

It's narcissism. She doesn't care about anyone but herself. 

She doesn't think about other people as people. 

They're just objects. They're either useful to her — or not. 


Don't get me started on the will. Textbook Sylvia. 

"See how generous, how urban I am? Giving a college education to this under-priviledged young man?" Andrew has a scholarship at Michigan State. 

Andrew has worked hard for everything he has. 

Make no mistake. This money has nothing to do with Andrew. 

She is using my son like she used everyone else. It is narcissism. 

You can only protect your kids so much in this world. 

They are going to see the ugly, the nasty, the evil, the corrupt. 

It's only a matter of time. 

But the one person I thought I could protect my son from — was my sister. 


The Movement Movement · Oil and acrylic on canvas · 48 X 60 in


Felicity Foster 

Oh Sylvia. Sylvia. Sylvia. 

They found her body in the shape of a gentle C. 

A blessing. 

This denotes an easy passing. 

Thank God it had not been an S or a Y — or a lower case h. 


A beautiful soul should not suffer! 

Reluctantly, reluctantly 

I take over leadership of The Movement Movement. 

I was chosen before she died. 

"Felicity," she said. 

"Felicity you will take up the reigns of our little movement one day." 


Such a boon, 

such a burden. 

Such buoyancy, 

such bondage 

— to fill the shoes that Sylvia leaves empty. 

We are to perform “The Elephants in Mourning” at the wake. 


The elephants have lost their matriarch; 

their grief is heavy, 

their hearts leaden, 

their bodies sag with sadness 

— but then! 

A new matriarch is chosen. 

She does not want it, she is reluctant, and yet! 

She is ready. 


The weight is lifted. 

The circle of creation is completed. 

Everything is as it was meant to be!


What We’d Gained and Lost · Soft pastel on Paper ▬· 18 X 24 in


Margo Beckerman


I’ve known Sylvia since we were a couple of flat-chested, pimple-picking zeros.

We pierced each other’s ears, administered permenants upon one another’s heads,

slowly destroyed our skin together under a thousand summer suns.


We lost our virginity the same year (I had to keep up), graduated school, married, 

wrecked two pristine undercarriages giving birth to fat babies,

saw four pert tits take the slow elevator down down down,



We talked on the telephone for hours about the things we’d lost and gained. 

Long distance of course.

I can dish anything you want to know about Sylvia.

Everett? Now there was an amicable split. 

They had stone cold silent sex, once a month every month since 1988. 

No talking. That was the one rule. Wham Bam Pass the Ham. 

The only part of their relationship that worked they kept and trashed the rest.


Leo? He was her soulmate. They way they could talk: 

Like a schizophrenic — one mind jawing a subject over from two angles.  

He never knew about her and Everett’s little arrangement. She could keep a secret in a glass house.

In the end, it didn’t matter. Sylvia couldn’t handle that kind of intimacy.

Ryan? Sylvia’s triumph as a mother.

She had everything to give that weird little queen

and she gave it all. She never held back.


Paige? She tried with Paige. She really did. 

Somehow it was never the right gesture, the right combination of words, 

She always wanted to pay for Paige’s schooling the way she had with Ryan. She was fixated.

But Paige wasn't like that. She had Gwen when she was seventeen. 

She wanted food and a roof. She was happy waiting tables. 

Mary? Sylvia’s half-crazy half-sister. 

You know what good friends oil and water are. 

Sylvia always hated the sorry state of their relationship but she ran out of time to fix it. 

Believe you me, life is too short to mess around with apologies and forgiveness. 

Just take care of it.


IDK · Oil and acrylic on canvas · 16 X 20 in


Gwendolyn Dunn

Its SO sad. I’m SO sorry.


I know… she took such good care 

of herself too. She was always eating her 

salads, walking jasmine, doing her yoga...

She was hella spry.

Right?! She danced like a 25 yo. 

How does a person like that have 

a heart attack???

She wasn’t a stereotypical grandma.

Like my grandma straight up watches 

wheel of fortune 24/7.


I know… i wanna be just like her 

when i’m old. Do u remember that 

time we went to thai gardens and 

played “rich”


Ya. that was so funny. Shw was all

excuse me, this fork is to short…

this music is so canadian…

this view is so tacky……




I was thinking about gilmore girls 

this morning


It will always make me think of her. 

Snuggling…. no bras... nothing to eat 

but brownies and popcorn and candy all weekend.

Ur mom brought us pancakes.

Thats right she did.

Do u think you’ll dance with thw movement?

idk. its too sad to think about

right now


U should. She would want u to.

I know.


U dance just like her.


Wow. Thank you. I do feel like thats our 

connection... Like that's the way she'll live on. 

Does that even make sense?


When i’m dancing she’ll 

always be dancing with me.


     Thats so beautiful Gwen.


Bright Spot · Oil and acrylic on canvas · 6 X 6 in

Missing Piece · Soft pastel on paper · 18 X 24 in


Leonard Starks

Sylvia was a genius. She was beautiful. She was elegant. 

She was genuinely good. Her moral compass was — fine-tuned. Unwavering. 

And she was the love of my life. 

But. She couldn't get close to people. Emotionally. 

If you got too close, she would pull back. 

Or. She’d push you away. 

She was petrified — of closeness. 


I begged her to marry me. Even to just share my roof. 

I wanted her close. She told me that we should be friends

The clap of doom. The coup de grace. 

But I accommodated. I did not want to lose her altogether. 

So, we were friends. We were the best of friends. 

We traveled together. We read books together. 

We would discuss films and plays and music — for hours. 

It was what Sylvia needed from me. 

I wanted more, I always wanted more — alas

I ache for my friend.


Don’t Call Me Kid · Oil and acrylic on canvas · 30 X 40 in


Milo Perry


Old Lady Next Door lyrics


people say dying young is the easy way out

but I know what it means to suffer alone in a full house 

dying old in an empty house is the cop out

you’re the one who played it safe

I won’t call you boomer

don’t call me kid

aren’t you lucky that nobody’s left 

who remembers when you were the kid?

an eye for an eye

for hating my friends with pronouns and lazy lies

about black nails, graffiti hair, no disguise like it’s uncivilized

your loss for being scared of nothing but change

it was a joke all along

you didn’t wanna hear my sad songs

now you’re gone

and I don’t wanna hear your sad dog

I won’t call you boomer 

don’t call me kid

aren’t you lucky that nobody’s left 

who remembers when you were the kid?

The Light Goes So Quickly · Oil and acrylic on canvas · 5 X 7 in

Close Enough · Oil and acrylic on canvas · 16 X 20 in


Ryan Dunn

“Mom was the queen. She was the absolute shit. 

There's this darling little Sylvia-shaped hole in the universe now and it will never be filled. 

It’s that gap in her choreography, that hollow in her favorite chair by the window. 

It’s that stabbing pain in the guts of everyone she loved, 

everyone she inspired, everyone she helped, everyone she laughed with. 


“Her love was an unstoppable force. 

It didn't matter what you threw at her, she kept right on loving loving loving. 

When I came out in college (I know. I know. Surprise!) she wasn't even phased. 

She sent me a pack of gum and a box of condoms and a little note that said: 

"Now there's nothing holding you back." She was my forever soulmate. 

(Sorry, Mark, but it's true and you know it.)


I can’t tell you what a relief it is to me that Mom and I always agreed 

she would merciless haunt me after death. 

She's probably here right now. 

Make sure to tell them how timeless and effortless my fashion sense was. 

Tell them I want Ryan to have all my clothes.


“I'm trying to be optimistic here. It's not enough. I want her. I miss her. So much. 

Every day. Every second. I'm scared to wake up tomorrow. 

What does the world even look like without my mom? Does it even exist? 

Or is it just a black, endless vacuum? Like space but without the stars. 

I feel like a little boy, you know? I want my mommy! 

“It's so easy to be blind to a person's faults when they die. 

And, of course, I know mom wasn't perfect. 

But she was close enough for me.”

A P.S. just for Paige:

I know you're hurting the most. 

I know it felt sometimes like mom spoke emotional French and you spoke emotional Mandarin. 

It felt like she couldn’t see who you were but only what she thought you could be.

But I want to tell you something she once told me about you. 

She said: ‘I think hospitality might be Paige’s super power. 

She's efficient, she has perfect recall — she never writes anything down. 

She's nice but it's more than that. She can really read people. 

She's chatty if people are lonely, silent if they need to be left alone  —  

if a group of frat boys comes in, she's in MILF mode. 

If it's a family with a bunch of kids, she's Mary Poppins. 

She makes iHOP feel like The goddamn Whitney.

She believed in your potential. She was proud of you — 

She was proud of how you were raising Gwenny.

I know love sometimes isn’t enough if there’s any kind of fine print

(Oh my god, somebody write that down!) 

 but I believe that the fine print always read: I love you I love you I love you.

Love, Ryan

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