Testimonial of Brett Patterson (Uncle Brett), delivered at the Memorial 11/17/2018

Because this is so important, I decided not to shoot from the hip.

So I got together with another family member to put a little something together, so bear with me as I read this.

I wanna thank Mac and the committee for asking me to speak today. I feel honored to have been asked to talk at this celebration of life.

I’m looking at the number of people here, and I’m grateful to see how well Alana was loved.

And I want to thank the support group that helped Mac arrange such a great gathering that reflects the greatness of the wonderful woman we’re here to honor.

I want to show my appreciation for Mac for helping Alana with her illness from start to finish.

The love, the unselfishness, and the compassion, you showed and gave Alana shows what true love really is.

I feel so grateful to have witnessed that. And Mac you’ll always be my family and my nephew.

I want to thank all the family and friends who traveled here to honor her.

If you’re in this room, it means you’re a special person.

Because Alana didn’t just associate with anyone.

Alana found a way to bring humor into everything.

She did stand-up comedy for a while, and it was so smart, I didn’t get it. I only knew to laugh because other people were laughing.

And she wasn’t afraid to shy away from the hard topics.

In fact, she was sure to call you out if she knew you were doing something wrong.

And that was one of the many amazing things about her.

She could know your darkest moments, the things you’re most ashamed of, and she would not judge you. She wouldn’t shame you.

She’d love you and tell you all the ways you’re doing things right.
I didn’t know when it happened, but she outgrew me. My niece out matured me.

At some point, she transformed from this adorable little girl and became my life-coach. The person I could talk to, that I could depend on for good advice.

Something tells me, I’m not the only one that knew her that way.
She touched a lot of lives.

Just look at all the people who came from all over to honor her. That speaks to the kind of woman she was. Open, honest, giving, and loving.

Losing Alana is a bigger than I could put into words, but I’m glad to see all of you here to pay your respects.

It really means a lot to me see how many lives she touched.
She will be truly missed.

Again, thank you all for attending and joining in this celebration of life for my niece.

I don’t know you all, but I’ll say this because Alana loved you, much love to you all.

Thank you.

Posted by Bob Devich

Char’s Closet, by Alana, 1996

Char’s Closet
Alana Nicole Devich Cyril, nee Alana Nicole Devich, AKA Muffy
Alana wrote this essay at Oxford in 1996 as a Mother’s Day gift.

My mother is what you might call a hoarder. The oldest of twelve in a working class family, she didn’t grow up with a lot of things, and she’s making up for it now. My father has 1/3 of the closet space in their walk-in closet. It is clear when you walk in to the closet that his is the left wall. At some point in the past couple of years my mother’s clothes have started creeping onto my father’s side of the closet. This is when he put the tape on the rod. My mother is now allowed six inches of my father’s side of the closet.

My father’s clothes are neatly folded and hung, and could probably occupy half of the space he uses, but on principle he refuses to let my mother’s things further onto his side. He built her cubbyholes in which she could store her shoes. Ninety-eight cubbyholes—the deal being that she would not have more shoes than could fit in the cubbyholes. My mom soon discovered that she could fit two pairs of shoes in each cubbyhole, and if they were sandals, three or four. Eight years later the cubbyholes are full, she’s got a stack of shoes on top of the cubbies and shoes lining the floor in front of the cubbies three rows deep. This does not include the shoes she keeps on the other wall of the closet, or the shoes in the other closets.

I usually make it home to visit my parents once or twice a year; each time I go home I help my mom clean out the closets. There is the walk-in closet in the master bedroom (my dad’s clothes as well as my mom’s everyday work clothes, shoes, belts and purses), the side closet in the same room (more of mom’s shirts, and piles and piles of new hosiery and socks) the closet in the den (mostly skirts, suitcases, and less-often used bags), the closet in the guest bedroom (sweaters, dress shirts and last-minute gifts), the closet in my old bedroom (I have yet to categorize what she has in there) and the downstairs closet (coats and other outerwear). Usually we tackle two closets—the master bedroom and the den. We sort through the clothes and talk about work and Dad and who in the family is in jail.

My mom’s theory on shopping is two-fold and simple—she loves it and she does it often. For all of the shopping she does, I have never known her to buy something at full price, and she knows exactly what is in every closet. Walking into her closets is like going into a clothing store, Char’s Closet. See something you like, but the color isn’t right, keep looking, she’s got four more in other colors. She does the same thing with books and videos. When Peter Pan went on sale, she bought four copies. One for her, one for me and I’m still not sure what she did with the other two. They might have gone to my young cousins, or maybe into the last minute gift closet. She buys at least one copy of every book written by Danielle Steele, Sidney Sheldon, James Patterson and all of the other writers she loves. And all of this isn’t even mentioning the owl figurines or her African masks and artwork.

My mom’s sisters raid her closets annually. They drive up from Southern California in October with empty suitcases in tow. They pull out all of the clothes, throwing them onto the bed and sorting them into piles. Diane, for example, takes the purple clothes. After they are done, the closet is still in disarray, and I come home a few months later and actually organize it; throwing the clothes back on the bed and sorting them into four piles—clothes to donate, clothes to put back in the closet, clothes for me, and clothes to put into one of the other closets. It wasn’t until recently that I realized that my mother plans for these events—buying clothes she would never wear because she thinks one of us might like them. Her closets are filled with clothes that still have the tags on them, and it always surprised me when one of those articles of clothing fit me perfectly.

Closets have always been a magical place of abundance for me. Overstuffed closets soothe me. I imagine myself burrowing through the clothes and shoes, and curling up in the back. Safe. Thanks to my mother’s frequent shopping sprees, my childhood closet was like a miniature version of my mother’s—overstuffed with identical sweaters in different colors. My passion, however, was for books. My books overfilled the shelves in my room, so my dad built two bookshelves, which I put in my closet. When I was upset or angry I would sneak into my closet, closing the door behind me, and read the titles of the books. I would turn off the light in the closet and lie under my clothes so I could reach up and brush the back of my hand along the bottoms of the pants and skirts. I would reach out and run my index finger along the spines of the books, as if these things would bring me comfort. And I suppose they did, but by then I was really waiting for my mother to notice my absence and knock on the closet door.

She would knock and I wouldn’t respond, waiting instead for her to walk in and close the door behind her and wait for me to tell her about my problem. She never knocked too early, before I had sorted through the thoughts in my head, and she never waited too long. Mother’s magic.

Now I’m too old to curl up in closets. And while I have the perfect burrowing closet right now, I settle instead for opening the closet door and looking in at the clothes and shoes before laying face up on the bed, spread-eagle, as if I were preparing to make snow angels. Going home and cleaning out my mom’s closets is the closest I get to those moments from my childhood, surrounded by clothes and listening to the sound of my mother’s voice.

Oxford, 1996

So Many Funny Things

Alana performed stand-up on the first ever show I saw at the Comedy Studio in Cambridge, Massachusetts. That showcase was called “Women of Color in Comedy,” and Alana shined bright. I wanted to pursue comedy, and I found Alana’s timing, material, sense of humor, and poise to be so inspiring that I tracked her down through her website and wrote her a fan letter.

Alana responded with warmth, encouragement, and an admirably down-to-Earth attitude for somebody who was, to me, such an obvious superstar. We became friends. This was THRILLING to me. Famous hilarious incredible Alana Devich was becoming my friend. I could hardly believe it.

Over the years we wound up performing on tons of comedy shows together, including a series called “Girls Gone Wild,” organized by our funny friend Kelly MacFarland. For one of those shows, Alana wrote some sketches based on Dirty Dancing, one of her favorite movies. We closed the show with a ridiculous dance re-enactment that Alana set up perfectly. At the climactic moment, Alana placed a stool in the middle of the stage, and another comic named Melissa rushed up toward the stage from the center of the audience. Yoga queen Alana did a perfect arms-out locust pose on the stool while Melissa grabbed Alana’s ribs from the audience, perfectly emulating the classic lift move from Dirty Dancing. And the audience. Went. Nuts. It was one of the most delightful, entertaining, magical, silly, fun, brilliant, hilarious moments I’ve ever seen at a comedy show.

Delightful. Entertaining. Magical. Silly. Fun. Brilliant. Hilarious. That’s Alana.

Posted by Erin Judge

A Wedding Toast

When Alana asked me to give a toast at her wedding, I spent a long time thinking about how best to celebrate her fabulousness and the fabulousness of her beloved. Here is what I said:

15 years ago, Alana Devich turned to me at the end of a yoga class in Cambridge, Massachusetts and said, “I’ve decided we should be friends. When are we going out to dinner?” A few dinners later plus a joint escape from what turned out to be not so much a yoga class but a strange cult, and the deal was sealed. The fact is, Alana Devich is made of awesome and I’m a very lucky person to have her in my life.

Let me tell you a little more about why. Soon after we’d become friends, I got sick with a chronic illness. Weeks stretched into months and months into years and pretty much all I could do was try my best to go to work and then come home and collapse. It was tough for a lot of people to understand, and I didn’t blame them—I hadn’t lived in Boston long, and it seemed like a lot to ask from new friends to stick by me when my social life consisted mostly of going to the doctor.

But not so with Ms. Alana Devich. She would pick up take out and come over and watch stupid tv with me. She didn’t care that my brain was a foggy mess that couldn’t put thoughts together. She still found a thousand ways to make me laugh. And that is one of the reasons I was able to make it through five long years of being sick.

And that is just one of the many times that Alana has been there for me when things have been hard, painful, falling apart.

When we each moved from Boston to opposite coasts, it was Alana who said, this is ridiculous. We need to make regular phone dates. Those phone dates have helped me through many years of changes, of sharing the good and the bad together, and doing our best to help each other make sense of it all.

Here are a few more things you should know about Alana, if you don’t already. She loves a dance-off. She is a comedic genius. She doesn’t suffer fools, but she will always find a way to make their foolishness hilarious. She is a healer who draws from the deepest well of compassionate power. She has the gift of being truly alive to the world around her, of finding delight even in the darkest times and, what’s more, she shares that gift with everyone around her. And when Alana sets her mind to something, that something will HAPPEN.

And so it was with the Alana Devich Dating Project. As a side note, I’d like to take credit for some crucial advice early on in the Dating Project about sexier bra options—feel free to thank me, Mac.

When Alana decided it was time to get some dating done, she got some dating done. But I could feel it in my bones from the first time she mentioned her upcoming date with Mac, something important was about to happen.

I have seen Alana give her heart before but I had not yet seen her meet her true match. Someone strong enough to be her strong-willed equal. And tender enough to make her know that she is always, at all times, loved. In Mac I see a poet-warrior who is both strong enough and tender enough. I see someone who has made it their mission to love Alana with great passion and inspiration. To make her laugh. To make her angry. To inspire her to be her greatest, most powerful self.

This is the kind of love I think about when I think about what Audre Lorde meant when she talked about the uses of the erotic, I think about your love, about the power of it, about the power of making a home for each other and a passion that fuels true transformation.

So raise your glasses with me and toast to the very special and rare loves that transform not only the lovers but declare inevitably that the world itself must transform in that loving image.

Posted by Karen Pittelman

The Cat Brooks Interview

This interview with Cat Brooks I had on my Soundcloud to do list long after it was shared on the Alana aka: Winner FB page. Today, I cherish it and have downloaded and backed it up just in case the interwebs blows up. It is one of my favorite things. The voice of my friend so close in my ear is comforting. And the story that is Mitts and Muffy is so unique, special. This interview illustrates their chemistry, their character, and respect for one another— in listening it is clear each can’t wait for the other to finish. They truly are proud of their connection.

Warming the ventricles of my heart aside, it taught me so much about esophageal cancer. About Alana’s prognosis. I hope the interview is shared so the whole world, through this love story, can learn, as well.

Posted by Penne Soltysik

Alana vs the Stick Shift

Alana was embarrassed to drive Mom’s Mercedes (“the ostentatious behemoth”) so she wanted to learn to drive my stick-shift Volvo.

Anyone who’s taught a person how to drive a stick shift realizes that they have forgotten how complex it is. Learning the shift pattern and the use of two feet is difficult enough. Developing the feel for the clutch and the gas takes a whole lot of patience on the part of the student and the teacher. But after you’ve driven the stick for a few months, it’s completely unconscious — thankfully.

Alana did not appreciate that I wanted to wear my bicycle helmet.

Early in learning process, we were leaving a parking lot and encountered a car waiting to cross in front of us. Alana stopped, then the stopped car motioned her to go ahead. She killed the engine. She motioned for the other car to go ahead. They killed their engine. Repeat, repeat. Finally, I looked into the other car and saw it was another dad teaching his daughter to drive a stick.

Both daughters were beet red and both dads were just cracking up.

Posted by Bob Devich

Alana and the Murderers

You know Alana was a vegetarian, but you may not know she took up this practice in middle school. She was such an animal lover that she did not want to eat any part of any animal. “I don’t eat anything that had a mother,” she said. Nor did she allow anything with leather, so any number of gifts went back to well-intentioned Aunties and Grandmothers.

One year she was home on break from college and the family was invited to a holiday dinner at a close friend’s house. They cooked a special dish for Alana — turkey chili. I guess to some people “vegetarian” means “no beef”. Not to Muffy.

When she was in high school, she got a job waitressing at a cafe Char and I frequented, and we knew the owners pretty well.

After a few weeks, the owners shared with us that when people ordered sausage or bacon with their meal, Alana would mutter “murderer” loud enough for them to hear.

Funny, this didn’t get her fired, nor did it impact her tips. Probably because of the smile she served to each customer.

Doesn’t that sound like Alana?

Posted by Bob Devich


When she was in elementary school, Alana was resisting studying. She asked me why we have to study, why we have to learn things. She was very worked up, almost in tears.

I patiently explained that we need knowledge in order to get along in life. There are things we need to know in order to do the things we want to do. Then she came up with a question I couldn’t answer.

“Dad, why can’t we be BORN with knowledge?”

Posted by Bob Devich

Always a comic

Alana’s comic sense showed up early in her life.

She was in middle school, and we were in a grocery store; somebody named Lois was paged. She apparently thought the name was Blois. Where did she go with this?

“So Blowus, how was your date with the basketball team?”

Posted by Bob Devich