March may have come in with a roar, but February left with a vengeance. Within the final week of February, three of our beloved friends and family members passed on from this earthly existence and onto their glory.

Victoria Martin, affectionately known as Tori, daughter of Lloyd and Josh Martin, of Wilmington, Del., died on Feb. 26 as a result of a blood clot that struck her heart. She was 43 years old.

Victoria Martin had been a diversity officer with Chartis, a division of AIG insurance. In her capacity, she traveled all over the world. We would often joke that we would love to see her passport and would one day put it in a frame. During the month of January, she traveled to Dubai, South Africa, and then on to London before returning to Jersey City, N.J., where she resided in a fashionable townhouse. Upon her return, she underwent minor surgery—nothing to be concerned about, with no complications.

One week later, she awoke early in the morning not feeling well and called 911 to take her to the hospital. By the time she reached the hospital, she was incoherent. The hospital staff worked feverishly to save her, but as the doctor stated, “God’s calling was stronger.”

Friends and family are traveling to Wilmington from all over the country and even different parts of the world to attend her funeral. A video showing photos taken throughout her life—and most recently from her 40th birthday bash that she hosted in St. Maarten—will be shown, fond memories will be shared and she will be sent off with a prayer.

Lisa Lane, one of the newer residents of Lenox Terrace, passed away a day or two following Victoria Martin. Partially disabled, Lane used a walker to get around and was often seen around the neighborhood speaking to everyone she knew and then some. Most recently, she was seen with her brother, a very dapper looking young man, as they were going out to enjoy the afternoon together.

Unfortunately, Lane seemed to have slipped while getting out of the bathtub unassisted. A friend who was in the apartment at the time heard her fall and rushed to her aid but was unable to lift her up on her own. Frantic, the friend ran to ring a neighbor’s bell but no one was home. Hurriedly, she re-entered the apartment and called for emergency services. The call was answered swiftly but not swiftly enough, as upon their arrival, Lane was declared dead from massive bleeding to the brain.

Chuck Cornish, a former resident of New Jersey and Palm Beach, Fla., died unexpectedly in a fiery car crash. Cornish had been suffering from diabetes and was unable to attend this year’s annual J. Kendell Flowers Golf Invitational that is held every January in nearby Sarasota, Fla.

According to a close friend of the family, on this particular day, Cornish had been driving along the interstate highway when he was pulled over by the highway patrol for driving too slowly. He explained he was not feeling very well and was about to get off at the next exit, as he was headed home. The officers let him go. Moments afterward, before he reached the exit, Cornish went into shock. As he lost consciousness, his car veered off the road, slammed into a tree and burst into flames. His body was burnt beyond recognition. The only identifying objects left were his wallet and cellphone.

The news of death often makes us stop and ponder the meaning of life, either our own or that of another. It makes us grateful for each day and makes us stop to cherish our friends, family and loved ones. We realize that nothing is promised in life, and it is up to us to make the best of each day. To make the best of it, the church says to pray, the mystics say meditate, teachers say learn your lessons, players say live for the moment and elders say take your time.

Everyone seems to have a theory or belief that works best for them, or does it? What helps to guide you through the maze of life? Either way, life is a process, and to those who have passed on, rest in peace. To the rest of us, find the peace within.

Dance Theatre of Harlem (DTH) held its 2014 Vision Gala at Cipriani 42nd Street, celebrating its 45th anniversary. This year’s gala theme was “Live the Moment.”

Among the honorees was Patti LaBelle, who received the Arthur Mitchell Vision Award. In accepting the award, she most graciously stated, “This is my 52nd year in this business called show, and to be honored by the Dance Theatre of Harlem for their 45th year anniversary, I feel so blessed, so honored.” 

The other honorees included dance educator and arts advocate Jody Gottfried Arnhold, who was given the Carl and Lily Pforzheimer Foundation Medal, and Goldman, Sachs & Co. Senior Partner Valentino D. Carlotti, who received the inaugural Virtuoso Award. Billy Joel, who was not in attendance, was honorary chair of the evening.

The evening’s event raised $700,000, $75,000 of which was attributed to the live auction conducted by Audrey Smaltz. Proceeds from the evening’s event benefitted the DTH School’s Next Generation and Community Engagement Funds.

The evening’s entertainment included a piece choreographed by DTH School Director Endalyn Taylor entitled “Over the Rainbow,” which was performed by the DTH School, and a preview of the DTH Company’s forthcoming spring season at Jazz at Lincoln Center with an excerpt from Raymonda. In conclusion, the company gave a special tribute performance to LaBelle that was choreographed by resident choreographer Robert Garland.

The surprise performance of the evening came from LaBelle, who showed her appreciation with an a capella rendition of “The Lord’s Prayer” with opera singer Jessye Norman joining her; and the audience said, “Amen.”

In attendance were nearly 400 corporate sponsors, supporters, friends, alumni and members of the board, including journalist Paula Zahn, Malaak Compton-Rock, Kimberly Chandler, Miss USA 2012 Nana Meriwether, Isiah and Lynne Thomas, Miss New York City 2014 Kira Kazantsev, Samuel Peabody, Judith M. Hoffman, Jean Shafiroff, Beverly D’Anne and Guy Mognaz.

Members of DTH’s board of directors were present, including Chairman of the Board Kendrick Ashton Jr., Gala Committee Chair Leslie Wims Morris, DTH Vice Chair Michael Armstrong, and members Isabel Kallman, Trey Muldrow, Kevin Cofsky, Zandra Perry Ogbomo, Asha Richards, Anne E. Robinson, Don M. Tellock and Aliya Lee. Dance on, sing on, live long and prosper.

Until next week … kisses