I regret having to write this but I was always told that , “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord…” Cristal River-Mitchel transition on August 5th at 8PM with her lover Amber, friend and nurse by her side. I don’t know why God places angles into your lives and then take them anyway. But, I guess it’s not meant for me to know or understand, that would make me that great and powerful Oz. But I do know that Cristal will forever be a part of me and this organization. She has changed me in many ways and reaffirmed my mission.
Cristal was our foundations first grantee. She subsequently was not only the first grantee and a friend, but she became a board member of the Alma J. Cameron Foundation for Cancer Awareness (AJCF) in November of 2011. This is how God works…. I’m still laughing at LALA. I met Cristal in NYC about 20 years ago on my first production job Malcolm Jamal Warner first director’s gig. He was still doing the Cosby show that how long it’s been. It was shot at the Apollo, “Special Ed was the artist. The song was “I’m the Magnificent.” I was so impressed not only by her beauty and grace. But, that she was the only woman in the electric & grip department on the crew. I was in awe that she could be so beautiful, bold and brave. I know those guys gave her hell. She stood tall and strong! She was slinging cable over her shoulders like it was dental floss. What I liked the most about her was that she didn’t wave a flag for Gay & Lesbian rights at the time. But, Cristal lived out loud and proud. Oh how I envied her. I was still discovering myself and couldn’t dare be so bold.
Fast forward 20 yrs it’s now 2010. Dr. Mary Hardy of the Simms/Mann UCLA Center for Integrative Oncology called an stated, “I has an ideal candidate for the foundation. Are you are ready?” I said yes… Cristal filled out of application and qualified. She became AJCF’s first grantee. I was so excited too able to participate in her journey. Whoever she was? At this juncture we hadn’t spoken or met. She was a name on a piece of paper. I had her number on the application and was thinking about her. So on Christmas morning in 2010, I called to introduce myself and check in on her. She was so happy I called. She couldn’t believe it. She made me feel like the President. I cried when she told me she was in remission. She didn’t know it. But, it was the best Christmas gift ever! I was feeling low and missing my mom and brothers on that day. She sent my spirits straight to the moon. I smile even now when I recall that day. Anyway, we had the best conversation ever and made plans to meet for lunch at the Blu Plate Oysterette in Santa Monica. It was down the street from her spot, the Ivy on Ocean. The moment she walked into the restaurant. I couldn’t believe that this was the woman I met in NYC 20 yrs earlier. My jaw dropped… Nearly speechless, I told God he was funny. She was still beautiful! The picture in the gallery with us both in white is from our lunch. No, we didn’t plan to outfit. It just happened that way, kindred spirits I think.
One of the foundation’s goals is to have an AJCF Healing Homes. It will be a place where cancer patients can free themselves from the stress and pulls of daily life. Our special guests will experience a gentle return of energy and vitality as they focus on their diet, low impact exercise, relaxation and self-awareness. It’s a place to detoxify from stress caused by our environment and from the side effects of conventional medical treatments. All of our concepts and techniques will be researched-based and designed for our individual guest to take home and apply to their life and healing. Our first home will be named in Cristal’s memory and honor. I’ll keep you all posted. So, please keep me in your prayers for a 2013 Palm Springs opening of the “Cristal Rivera-Mitchel Cancer Care Home.” Maybe we can vote on a name as we move closer to birth of the vision. Palm Springs is located in the Cahuilla Valley. The Cahuilla Valley is known for its radiant and healing energy.
Continued prayers for God’s will, mercy & grace to be done, for the friends, family and caregivers in her life (Amber). May you all find comfort in His grace, peace through His word and laughter through your memories.
The foundation staff created a special photo gallery of her images “Remembering Cristal.” Please feel free to leave a message and/or share the link www.facebook.com/THEAJCF. If you scroll down our Facebook page you’ll find a video of Cristal that was shot last year for our organization’s as part of our awareness campaign. I don’t have everyone’s email address, so please feel free to share this with the family/friend network established during this journey.