December 10, 2007

Fuzzy memories

E-mailed in by Elisha:

My first memory of Debra is from last fall at a meeting for our kids' school. She was wearing fuzzy things: boots and maybe a fuzzy vest. We ended up standing outside the school for almost an hour after the meeting, talking about antibiotic-resistant infections, boots, and tattoos. A day or two later an invitation came for Frankie Ray's 5th birthday party. On that day, my son Liam and I walked over to their house and found a giant trampoline, a collection of top hats to decorate and take home, and several cases of "2 Buck Chuck" wine. Needless to say, everyone at that party had an excellent time!

The last week Liam and I had with Debra was actually quite full of her. We saw more of each other than we usually did. Frankie Ray had her 6th birthday, and once again we walked the few blocks to her house. It was raining this time, so there was no trampoline, and I had homework to do, so there was no 2 Buck Chuck. And of course, we had an excellent time. That week we ran into Debra on our walks to school, and she quizzed me about my studies, in that way she had of finding out everything about a person in the blink of an eye.

This is what I remember as our last conversation, and it is typical Debra: I walked into school and she snuck up behind me and smacked my butt. And then, just as surprisingly, she turned those blue eyes on me and told me that I was an inspiration, because of going back to college at my age. I joked that she should come back to college with me, that she could get a graduate degree. But really, I was just hiding my shock that such an accomplished, talented, and successful woman could possibly find inspiration in little old me.

In between these two moments, these two bookends of conversation, Liam and I were graced with 13 months of Debra. Hers was the face I always looked for at school gatherings, her funky style and irreverently witty charm always helped ease my discomfort in crowds. I still expect to turn a corner in our neighborhood, or walk through a doorway at school, and see her waving madly at me, a goofy grin on her pretty face. Like the rest of you, I truly miss her.


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