Goodbye Leanne

“When I was little, I never dreamed of my wedding day. I never dreamed of a big house or lots of money. I dreamed of a family and raising my children.”
— Leanne Sasso-Lusso February 26, 1971 — July 17, 2006
I believe she really meant what she said. Yet, she’s gone. Maybe that’s why I can’t get that Elton John song, “Goodbye Norma Jean” (or England’s Rose) out of my head. It could be because the way she died was so awful. In part, because she was so incredibly loved – INCREDIBLY LOVED – by her community, family and friends. She’s become a sort of tragic figure in my mind. The funeral home said that they’d never seen anything like the crowds who came to mourn. People waited in line for nearly 2 hours to pay respects. We were there as family, yet given where we live, I felt much like an outsider to this working-class Boston community.
But this peek into her extended world confirmed for me that she was to so many people what she also was to me… a force to be reckoned with, a hospitality queen, a magnet who drew us all into her world with love, generosity, humor, and beauty. “We’re family” she would always say to me when I thanked her for doing something nice… the bountiful meals at Maggio’s, the coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts, the opening of her home to us on Boston visits, the generous baby gifts, the RedSox World Series Tee Shirts, the hotel deal when we came to Larissa’s baptism…
She was mother, wife, restaurant coordinator, family hostess, social worker, party planner, philanthropist, friend to all. Yet, in that full life she was desperate. I can’t imagine what she must have been feeling. I don’t understand it. And frankly, it’s hard to wrap my mind around how/why she could leave those children, whom I know she adored, without a mother. There are likely things we’ll never know, puzzle pieces we may not find. I wish she know how much I loved her, how much we all did, how much we’ll miss her.
Ron has his hands full – to raise their kids with sweet memories and stories of her, yet in time, with honest answers about how she was hurting. Because we will never get her back, we must choose how to move forward in her memory…. I choose to keep my memories vivid, joyful, bigger than life – like all of my times with her were.
Follow-up: Leanne’s Dream Foundation was established to continue Leanne’s selfless volunteer work at the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center. The foundation will raise funds and coordinate volunteer activities to support and implement programs for disadvantaged children, disadvantaged women, and the handicapped and elderly. For more info visit

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One thought on “Goodbye Leanne

  1. Tonya,
    My name is Ann Giambertone. Leanne was my very best friend since I was 14. I came across your blog today. I would love to just chat with you. I always knew she knew so many people but I guess I just did not realize the extent to which she touched, really touched… so many people.
    I hope you are well. I just wanted to thank you for writing what you wrote.
    Kind regards,

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