Friday, June 1, 2012

Never Forget My First - Nancy Spungen

Nancy will always have a place in my heart. She was my first obsession. She represents a time in my life where I felt so liberated. I just completed 8 years at strict Catholic elementary school and started 9th grade at CAPA. The cultural difference was shocking. It was such an artsy free environment. I never met so many cool unique talented people. It really felt like there were no rules. Being different and creative was encouraged. I loved going to school down town and experimenting with my hair and clothes. It was a wonderful time full of amazing memories and Nancy was very prominent in my life. So it was only fitting that I go pay my respects.
I was pretty jazzed to go see visit Nancy’s grave and since she was so near and dear to my heart, like Gia, I wanted to leave her something special. She is in a Jewish cemetery called King David Memorial Park in Bensalem, PA. I knew that in the Jewish culture it is customary to leave a stone or rock at the grave site. I like that tradition. The stones stay put and show that someone had visited. I had some decorative stones in my house and I painted 3 of them to read “RIP ©Nancy”.
I dragged Kevin along with me again and was able to find a map of the cemetery and her plot location after a long search on line. Fortunately I watched a YouTube video that someone posted of their visit to her grave and I was able to spot her section right away. There were benches. As soon as I saw the benches, I knew that was her section. The benches are granite rock benches with the deceased name etched across the front of the seat. They aren’t very common so they stuck out to me. Nancy doesn’t have a bench. Her memorial is a flat marker.  There is a narrow cement pathway that runs down the middle of the row and on one side is the benches and the other the flat markers. It was very weird walking down the cement path. I was following the exact footsteps of the woman on the YouTube video and probably thousands of others who felt that perhaps they didn’t belong there but had to go anyway.  I turned around and Kevin was back by the car smoking a cigarette. I said “you are smoking in the cemetery?” He said “It’s Nancy, she would be smoking too.” I thought he was probably right.
I knew she was down the path about 20 feet and to the left. I spotted her marker from a few sites back because of the “stuff”. I had assumed there would be some interesting stuff left by previous visitors. When I looked down though the first thing that caught my eye were the dates: Feb. 27, 1958 – Oct. 12, 1978.  This is a 20 year old girl. She wanted to die since she was very young.  She was very much a tortured soul from the moment she was born. She was a preemie and was always screaming. She was angry and in agony her whole life.  When her mom saw her in the morgue, she said it was the first time she didn’t see anger in Nancy’s face. She said “she looked like a different person. She wasn’t angry anymore.”  She had the words “Your Odyssey is Over, Sleep in Peace” engraved on Nancy’s tombstone.
I was kind of surprised by what was left at her grave….but kind of not. There was a broken bottle of Rolling Rock, a pack of matches, a bottle cap, some black marbles, a quarter, a half dollar, a bullet casing, a silver bracelet that had a charm “you are loved”, (I liked that), of course there were some stones there too. I wondered how her mother feels when she sees the things people leave at her daughter’s grave. I know she visits. Her husband is buried right next to Nancy. He passed away in 2010. Does she think it’s disrespectful for someone to leave a bullet casing or bottle of beer? Does she mourn for the daughter she never had? I know she feels a sense of relief. Her daughter is no longer in agony. I just don’t know how I would feel if that stuff were left at the grave of my loved one.  I would think she would be shocked at first but then just came to expect it. It’s 34 years later and people are still visiting and leaving items of endearment…no matter how twisted the items may seem, they are from people who love Nancy.
Sid Vicious died a few months later from a drug overdose. His mom said she found a suicide note that read “We had a death pact and I have to keep my half of the bargain. Please bury me next to my baby in my leather jacket, jeans and motorcycle boots. Goodbye.” Deborah Spungen would not allow Sid to be buried with her daughter.  Not only did she think he killed her, he was not Jewish and wasn’t allowed in the cemetery.  But rumor has it Sid’s mom scattered his ashes over Nancy’s grave. She has told people that. So of course I feel like I was visiting Sid AND Nancy.  And of course I felt them both there.

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