Speaking of my husband, Hal Isaacson; 7/1/74 - 10/27/18 - Forever

It's been almost a year since I've posted here and while I feel like a stranger in a strange land sitting down to type in this old familiar box, I wanted to share the speech I wrote for Hal at his memorial service yesterday, and this seemed like the best place to share it.  If you don't follow me on social or have any idea what I'm talking about, you can read about the last four months, here. Full disclosure, I wrote this speech the day/night before the service and it wasn't intended for publication so excuse all typos...

Sending love, light and gratitude to all of you for your support these last few months...  It has and continues to blow my mind + fill my heart. 




Dearest friends, family....

I want to start by thanking you all for being here. And not just in this room but like HERE here – energetically, emotionally, communally… From the bottom of my heart and on behalf of Hal and our children, I will never forget the love you’ve blanketed us with these last four months. You? Have carried us.

Full disclosure, this was intended to be a quick thank you speech but when I started writing Friday night I couldn’t really stop. 

Earlier that evening, Revi had asked me to tell her the story of how Hal and I’d met and suddenly I was back in my old pageboy hat with my dial up modem, trying to impress Hal with clever one-liners on AOL.

It’s fitting that we turn the clocks back when we find ourselves limited in time. Almost every conversation over the last several months has been about the past.

Endings call for beginnings. Perhaps they cannot help themselves.

Hal used to roll his eyes whenever I referenced the various circles of life. 

 “uh oh, here she goes!” he would say, “Bec and her “full circles.”

And, yes, babe, okay, here I go…

Hal and I met in April of 2004. Our mutual friend Cory Clay arranged for us to meet at Stir Crazy on Melrose, to potentially partner on a scripted project Hal wanted to write called Tracts. It was a teen drama about wayward kids in a suburban community. Lots of metal… football. When Hal talked to Cory about finding a writing partner, he recommended Hal meet his friend, Becca. Because, obviously metal and football were totally my thing. (ha!)

I showed up to our meeting early. Hal was fashionably late.

He flung the door open with both hands and pointed to the ceiling. Van Halen’s JUMP had just come on the radio and Hal couldn’t help but sing along.

Days later we got together again to break ground on our new project. We lasted four whole hours before we started full on screaming at each other and made a pact to never work on anything together ever again.

Still, I couldn’t NOT be around him. He was living in the pantry of a two-story house at the time with friends from college. Hal had zero dollars to his name and while actively looking for a job, was currently unemployed. But none of that mattered. He made me laugh.

About a month after we met (and two days after I broke up with my boyfriend-at-the-time) Hal called me at 2am to come over. I assumed I was coming over to do what one would assume I was coming over to do… but when I got there, Hal had his guitar slung over his shoulder and grinning with raised eyebrows asked if I wanted to join him for a cup of tea.

Spoiler alert. I totally did.

Our first night together Hal and I spent in his garage flicking teag bags at each other while singing Misfits and The Smiths, Prince and Brittney Spears.

From there we started dating although we never went on any “dates.”
Hal couldn’t afford to take me out so I cooked for him every night and on a special occasion, he would take me to the 99 cent store and buy two bottles of captain morgan malt liquor and a DVD with english-ish subtitles. We did this regularly and over a series of weeks had created our own Criterion Collection but, like, the unwatchable version. We slept in Hal’s bed-sized bedroom with our feet sticking out the window. (It was summer so it felt almost nice.)

We spent our weekends on impromptu road trips with absolutely zero idea where we’d end up. We once spent a weekend on the mission to find the BEST gas station. (Hal LOVED gas stations and had a selection of “favorites” where e’re we went.)

Another weekend we made it to Santa Cruz only to find we couldn’t afford anything save for the only available room at the most disgusting motel of all time. We were convinced it was available because someone died in there months ago and the body was only recently discovered.

When we were unable to change rooms we bought a million candles and turned the room into a Guns n Roses video. That was essentially our MO from then on. Life was full of blessings, of course, but it was also full of stinky hotel rooms we had to do our best to make the best of.

And we did.

We lit candles when things were unexpectedly stinky. We blasted music and jumped on the bed. 

Weeks after our G&R motel room adventure, and after only four months of dating, I was pregnant.

At the time it was not good news. We were weird and broke and young. We smoked cigarettes in bed and slept with our feet out a literal window.

We were irresponsible, highly emotional artists trying to make it in our respective fields. We were punk ass kids.    

I showed up at his house hysterical, pregnancy tests in hand.

I was unable to speak but I didn’t need to. Hal had all of the right words.

We sat on his driveway and planned for a future neither of us knew we wanted and two months later we were in Vegas getting married in pants.

Everyone thought we were crazy.

Everyone was right.

But we were crazy about each other, too. And that felt like enough.

Besides, a baby seemed almost rebellious at the time. Or maybe we knew he wouldn’t be just any baby. Maybe we knew that together we were capable of something better than perfect. (Four somethings better than perfect, it so happened.)

Archer was born in May of 2005. One floor away from the room Hal would die in 13 years later.

“you and your full circles, Bec.”


As many of you know, Hal’s diagnosis was sudden and blindsiding. On June 30th, Hal went to the ER with shooting stomach pains. Twelve hours later, we were in a hospital room with doctors handing us a folder of “advanced care” paperwork -- an “introductory brochure” for the terminally ill.

The days that followed Hal’s initial diagnosis were a blur. They were also full of Hal’s profound clarity. At a time when most would be full of anger and blame, regret and sadness, Hal completely let go. He was full of love for everyone. Hal, we had learned, had been sick for many years with ZERO symptoms. Pancreatic Cancer is shitty like that. Hal was as ALIVE on the outside as a person could possibly be. The Cancer, tho, had other plans.

Still, Hal refused to look backwards. He refused to look forwards, too. He was alive for now and that was his focal point. The moment.

Hal and I left the hospital on the day of his 44th birthday – coming home to our four children to break the news that Hal had stage 4 cancer.

Hal called to the kids as soon as we walked through the door. He was the epitome of grace under fire. He was calm, cool, steadfast, eloquent… The six of us gathered around the dining room table, hand in hand.

“You guys?” Hal said, smiling through tears, “I’m dying.”

This time it was Hal who made the “full circle” comments. My love language. I sobbed.

It was the most visceral human moment outside of the births of our children that I had ever experienced. It was a soul framer. We all felt it. Hal’s heart was broken but bigger than that, he was gracious. And suddenly, we couldn’t help but feel gracious too.

We all cried of course. We cried lot. Because that’s what people do when they love each other. That’s what people do when they recognize how finite all of this is. We were so lucky! Even if only for a moment.

In the days that followed we would find out that NOT ONLY did we have each other, we had an army.  Friends and family came running with food and go fund me’s and furniture and appliances and most importantly, gigantic hearts.

We were blown away.

Days later, Hal broke the news of his illness publically on Facebook and immediately people starting calling and writing... commenting and texting with words like “unfair” and “tragic” and “I’m so sorry this is the worst possible news.”

To which Hal responded over and over AND OVER again. “How can you say that, when I’ve never in my whole life felt so lucky.”

From the outside things appeared tragic, and yes they absolutely were. They still are. We will NEVER get over this loss. But after fourteen years of lighting candles and blasting music – we continued to do exactly that. And, as exhibited by our incredible children, we were able to pass those same life skills on to them.


Hal and my last night together wasn’t so far off from our first one. Except this time it was me playing him Prince and The Smiths and yes, even The Misfits from the speaker of my cell phone.

He was unable to speak but didn’t need to. I had all the right songs.

It took me sitting down to write this speech to realize that the story Hal and I were destined to write was the one we actually lived.

An adventure with every possible scenario – We did not have an easy marriage. It was hard and it was messy and it was complicated. But it was also an adventure. Full of surprise pregnancies and surprise tax bills and a surprise cancer diagnosis… and while we really struggled with the day to day life stuff, in a crisis we were amazing. When shit got real, we joined forces with military-like precision. We became conjoined generals. A harmonized orchestra on a sinking ship.

From the day we met to the day we married to the day we became parents to the day Hal died, we had ourselves a great fucking story. We defied genre. We were a bad hallmark special crossed with a greek tragedy thrown against a romantic comedy suspense thriller after school special feminist coming of age story rock opera

We lived a lifetime in fourteen and a half years.

We were lucky.

We are lucky.

Yesterday, the kids and I buried Hal’s ashes and instead of crying we danced. The kids dug their shovels in the soil and we blasted Prince’s Let’s Go Crazy and gathered to get through this thing called life.
Just like we always had.

Like we always will.

And it was painful and joyful in the same way everything that matters always is…
And I immediately thought of the hotel room – smelling of death and dirt – and Hal lighting a hundred candles around the bed.
I’m not going to lie -- the last four months were excruciating. But they were also BURSTING with love. Because of all of you. Your hearts were an elevator for his spirit. TRULY. He read your texts and burst into tears. He said I love you to strangers. And he meant it.

Hal died knowing he was loved. He died knowing that his children would be taken care of – that I would NEVER be alone when it came to caring for them. He died knowing, Halbino style, that he gave it all he had and received, in the end, even more.

He died feeling lucky. Finger to the sky.

And in spite of our tremendous loss. As a family. A community. The world… I think we can all agree that THAT? IS SUCH A WIN.

So, thank you.

I love you.