Student, writer, dreamer, beloved daughter, sister, niece. Born Nov. 9, 1974, in Ottawa, died Jan. 1, 2013, in New Orleans of an accidental drug overdose, aged 38.
When Leslie and I were kids, we spent a great deal of our summer weekends in a magical land called Lencliff. Well, really it was just a campground about two hours out of Ottawa, but to us it was paradise.
Leslie was the oldest of our group of ne'er-do-wells, which included our cousins Matthew and Jessie as well as the Muldoon kids, Katie, Jen and John. Leslie naturally became our leader in all things imaginary. It was always her we turned to when we needed a new adventure.
If we weren't under the bridge pretending that we lived there, we were across the lake "settling the land" by building our fort. Every summer we spent our days tying branches to trees and building walls from mud and ferns. We usually got about halfway finished by the end of summer, and when we came back the next year, the walls would be completely eroded by the elements, so we'd start again. It didn't matter that all our work was clearly for no reason. The building of the elusive fort was more important than having it.
Just like our annual efforts to build a fort, Leslie's passions came from her journeys rather than a goal. She was an exploding firecracker of creativity, and will be remembered for the ideas and dreams she turned into realities. She reinvented herself often, changed direction constantly and never got distracted by the idea of a finish line.
Leslie was educated at Elmwood School and Carleton University. She was smart – so smart that I sometimes had trouble understanding what she was talking about.
Quite often she was told, "You have so much potential, if only you would apply yourself."
She could have been an English professor, or a world-renowned chef or a bestselling author. But Leslie never let the expectations of others affect her. She was her own person, and she reached and surpassed her own potential every day. She did this through her connections with the people around her and a commitment to herself and her own ideas.
I've never known anyone who lived with such conviction. Every choice Leslie made, every viewpoint she upheld, carried the conviction of a zealot. She knew what she wanted and she followed her dreams.
In New Orleans, Leslie was involved with the gothic industrial music community. She will be remembered by many as "DJ Vendetta," who hosted a nightclub called Corrosion and started up the Southern Gothic Festival, which brought together goth-industrial artists from all over. She made a place for herself in NOLA, and she left a mark.
Leslie knew all sorts of people who walked different paths. Their common denominator is she touched their lives. That is the greatest goal of all: to leave the world having made an impact and leave an indelible impression. To be remembered forever in the hearts and minds of your fellow travellers. I'm proud of Leslie for this, for she will not soon be forgotten.
Sally Goodwin is Leslie's sister.