Scott Simon

There is a funeral service for Ashley Theriot in Pensacola, Fla. today. She was just 32, and a gifted freelance writer.

The death of a vibrant young person is a tragedy in all ways. But the person who dies can leave a gift for someone else to go on. That can be a flesh and blood blessing.

Ashley Theriot returned from Colombia on Jan. 1 and began to have seizures. She turned out to have a rare tear in the artery of her brain stem.

There's been a lot of death in the news these last few days, between Syria and several celebrities. As we close the year, we might recall some things said by some people we lost that will stay with us for a long time.

Prince, who died at 57 after making music to dazzle generations, said, "It's a hurtful place, the world, in and of itself. We don't need to add to it."

Elie Weisel, who survived Auschwitz to reveal the Holocaust for so many, died at 87. I thought of his words when Aleppo fell this month to the Syrian regime.

Alice Furlaud was a ray of light: a graceful writer, with a fresh, unfiltered view of the world, who had maybe the most prized asset a writer can have — an utterly distinct voice.

Ally contributed essays and stories to NPR over the years, for about as long as this place has been in business. Her pieces from Paris were fabled: wry but warm essays that meandered like a stroll through through the streets.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

I always had a wonderful time in Fidel Castro's Cuba, and usually wound up feeling bad about it.

The island is beautiful, the people even sunnier: warm and friendly, especially to Americans. The responsables — government minders — assigned to each reporting crew would tease me about being from Chicago.

"Your mobsters used to run this place," they'd say. "Sam Giancana, The Godfather. You made our men bellboys and our women prostitutes." And then they'd treat you to mojitos and fabulous music.

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