In Memoriam

In Memoriam: Aileen Cheng (1987-2012)

Aileen ChengAileen Cheng was born in Oak Park, Illinois on April 28, 1987. She died suddenly on January 12, 2012 in Hawaii while doing work for VISTA helping high school students with college readiness. She had an aortic aneurysm resulting from Loeys-Dietz Syndrome. Her funeral was held in Marseilles, Illinois on January 21, 2012. She is at rest in Queen of Heaven Cemetery in Hillside, Illinois.

Aileen had a great sense of humor, was bright, creative and a ceramic artist. She graduated from Tufts Univeristy, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in 2010. Aileen became part of the Pagan Spirit Gathering Community following her graduation from high school in 2005 and took part in PSG in the years that followed when it was in Ohio and most recently, at PSG 2011 held at Stonehouse Park in Illinois. Aileen loved PSG's bonfires, dancing, and community and is missed.

Aileen and her life was honored as part of our our annual PSG Community Memorial Circle, held on the opening Sunday of PSG 2012, June 17.

Eulogy read by her sister Rachael at her memorial service

It's very difficult to summarize someone's life, it's even more difficult to summarize Aileen. Sometimes I feel like she only showed bits and pieces of herself to each of us. No one ever got to see all of her. We all have our own memories of Aileen. To some of us, she was family - a daughter, sister, granddaughter, niece, or aunt. To others, she was a friend, although that word doesn't really encompass what a friend can be -- as we all know, sometimes friends are closer than family. Aileen was loved by so many and a joy to those who knew her.

Aileen made her own path through this world and never shied away from the unknown no matter how much it scared her. Because of her willingness to explore she was able to experience much during her twenty-four years. These are just a few experiences I thought she would like mentioned. She traveled to Europe and performed for thousands. She rode a cow in Montana for about 3 seconds. She became an aunt. She graduated from college and struck out on her own. She was a blue ribbon equestrian. She was an award winning artist. She completed Outward Bound and came home with only one parasite. She loved the worlds of Harry Potter, Middle Earth, and Star Trek. And she touched and influenced lives everywhere she went.

When Aileen entered the room, we knew that laughter was soon to follow. She just couldn't help that quick wit and unique sense of humor. There are so many funny Aileen stories that we can't even begin to get into now. And we all have our own special Aileen memories. Suffice it to say, we will miss her, but remember that above all, Aileen lived out loud.

Aileen ChengAileen was a spiritual person and on this note I'd like to finish with a prayer from the Wiccan tradition:

Ancestors, you have gone before us and given us our lives, you who are ancestors of our blood and you who are ancestors of the spirit, may you walk among us now. May you guide Aileen to the Summerland, to the lands of renewal. May she join your company and there find healing for all the hurts of the body, and may she continue to grow in wisdom and power. May she meet those among you that she has known and loved before; may she be embraced and welcomed. Blessed Be.

Journey on now, Aileen. We will follow when we can.

Memorial Tributes

NameRev. Selena Fox
LocationCircle Sanctuary near Barneveld, Wisconsin
Date2012-05-09 18:29:08
I cherish memories of Aileen dancing around the Community Sacred Solstice Fire. I cherish memories of her quick wit and creative spirit. Like a beautiful blazing comet across the night sky, Aileen was brillant and gone too soon. May we who mourn her death take comfort in knowing that she continues to live on in our hearts and memories, and in the many lives that she enriched. Blessed Be.
NameRev. Debby Morris
Date2012-05-09 19:43:57
Ailene was the first person that Zan and I made friends with at PSG in 2006. She was our neighbor at our campsite and she helped us with navigating our first PSG. I remember the outfit she wore to the opening ritual, it was a black midi skirt with a black top and a black corset with combat boots. The second year we were there, she was so nervous about the Bonfire Circle opening where she would be one of the dancers who was portraying air. With the gloves that have the spikes of fire for fingers (don't know what they're really called), but she did wonderfully ... gracefully dancing air with several others. She also led a workshop in 2007, I think .... can't recall the details, but it had something to do with laughing. We always had and extra cup of coffee waiting for her in the morning, and last year we shared one with her at the trailer vendor. She loved a good joke and was a fun person all around, with an easy smile and just enough snark. She was highly intelligent and could track with the most nerdy conversation topics. Until I met Ilene, I didn't know one could major in ceramics. We always looked forward to seeing her every year, and when she couldn't make it, we were disappointed, but knew she'd be around the following year to fill us in on her exploits. We will miss her dearly.
NameZan Krall
LocationGermantown, MD
Date2012-05-09 19:44:11
Aileen was the first person I met at PSG. She taught me what the PSG "family" is. Our first festival ever, PSG was overwhelming. We did not know a sole. Aileen walked over to our camp introduced herself and became our friend instantly. Between workshops and events, we talked and laughed. We joked around like we had know each other for a life time. I will always remember Aileen as that gorgeous young woman with great wit and a dazzling costume for the Tea Party! We camped near bonfire circle that first year in "area 51" because the rest of the camp was full. Aileen camped there because it was near bonfire circle. By the end of the week, we knew why it was so cool to be near bonfire circle. It is the heart beat of PSG. Aileen, I will miss you! Until we meet again, rest softly.
NameRev. Vic Wright
Date2012-05-21 07:15:24
Aileen was a friend/family member that I met at PSG. She was always smiling and full of life. She seemed to always have a kind word or a smile for everyone. She was very curious about things and asked a lot of questions about stones and how to use them as tools. I enjoyed talking with her several times during several PSG's. May she rest in the arms of the Goddess and may her family and friends find strength in remembering her life and the joy she brought to us all. Until next time Aileen, be blessed and well.
NamePele Aurora
LocationBelleville, IL
Date2012-06-10 10:12:56
I first met Aileen at PSG 2005. I can recall her warm, funny sense of humor and smile. The next year at 2006 I remember vividly her running up to me and giving me the warmest hug. I'll never forget that. She and I hung out the entire time of PSG that year. We talked everything and really formed a bond of friendship. Even though we didn't keep in touch a lot she will always be in my heart. The one thing that sticks out in my mind about her is her take no prisoners attitude and her zest for life. I hope that her transition was a safe and peaceful one. All my love, Pele Aurora