There’s a saying you’ll see in a lot of Irish pubs: “You’re a stranger but once…” It’s a sign that surely should have been emblazoned on the heart of dearly departed Kelly Breslin, who was lost to us this past Tuesday night at the far too young age of 44. Concurrent with a life that had her working and mingling with a great many of the city’s elite, Kelly – aka KB to her friends, or just simply “Brez” – was equally comfortable, and probably even moreso, with the hot dog guy on the corner, the shoe repairman down the block, the bouncer at that club. It shouldn’t take a huge leap of the imagination to figure out where that DNA comes from – she was, after all, Jimmy Breslin’s daughter.
More than that though – and every single one of her friends will attest to this with equal enthusiasm – when you had good news, or even when you merely thought you might, you couldn’t find a greater cheerleader for same than Kelly Breslin. “Wow, this is delicious – we’ve GOT to get you your own place!” “Ohmygawd, are you kidding me? Geez, you better invite me to the premiere!” And so on. And so on. Nothing was ever okay or fine with Kelly Breslin. Everything was “great” or “fantastic” or “unbelievable.” As was she…
“Well-meant lateness,” intoned her father, the inimitable Breslin, during her eulogy Saturday, bringing a Mona Lisa smile of recognition to the faces of those who’d come to pay their respects – it was surely one of her most endearing and eminently forgivable attributes. And yet, I couldn’t help thinking that here was Kelly Breslin finally doing something she’d never done all her life. She was early. Far too early, unspeakably early, at just 44 years of age.
How cruel that the rest of us should be deprived of someone with so much energy, so much ingenuity, so much of the spunk and pizzazz that seem particular to New York City… Perhaps it is Kelly’s saving grace then, that she was able to pack more living into her far too brief 44 years – more laughing, more loving – than most do with 88. She will be missed, but never forgotten.