November 29, 2007

Steph Rausser's TRIBUTE to Deb

One of the most lovely women I have ever met.
One of my favorite people in the entire world.

I met Deb sometime in the early 90's and she was my camera assistant for several years. She was one of the most upbeat women I had ever met. She was interested in everyone and everything. She was gorgeous beyond belief and a treat to both look at and stare at. To stop my staring I started to photographing her and I am happy to say I now have quite a few photographs of her I now look at often and with a smile.
When we worked together she always showed up with a great attitude and a big smile. Back then she had hair down to her bum, all one length, and parted down the middle. She loved her North Face Puffy Jacket and always carried her Betsey Johnson leopard print bag which she could never find what she needed in. She could talk alot and she could make friends with everyone & everyone wanted to make friends with her. She was great to work with because she was so curious and interested.
I can describe it in no other way other than: everyone had a crush on Deb: boys, girls, husbands, babies, men, boyfriends, women, parents, clients, bell boys, concierges, taxi drivers, everyone.
After we stopped working together we became better friends and started to help eachother out in the world of freelance photography - talking about the business, the pressures, how to go about things - and it was at this time that I really got what a brilliant photographer she was and how much she loved to take photos. I am sure there are a lot of people in this room who had the opportunity to be photographed by Deb and know how happy she was and how alive she became when taking photographs.
Around this same time we also had our daughters, frankie and cleo, who are now both 6 years old, and this gave us something additional in common, more to share, and more to talk about. Deb's two favorite things were taking photos and being Frankie's mom. She loved Frankie and was so amazingly good to her.
We would get together and let the girls play and we would talk and talk for hours. Sometimes we would talk about photo editors and agents and sometimes we would just talk about how was it that we ended up driving station wagons. When we were at my house I would try to get them to spend the night and stay a bit longer because I always wanted a little bit more of Deb; I always wanted longer visits, more phone calls and more of deb's stories.
And what I would give for them now.
Deb was the kind of person where although you may not have seen her in a few months you would within minutes of seeing her feel like she was your closest friend in the entire world. She had such a warm and friendly way of being.
Getting Deb to show up to things was not always easy; getting Deb to show up to things on time was close to impossible. But when she did show up it was so exciting. I can hear myself saying "Deb's here and Frankie's with her" and my being so happy. Within the shortest amount of time you knew almost everything that was happening in her life and she wanted to know everything that was happening in yours. She was an amazing listener and she wore her heart on her sleeve like no one else I know.

I will never be able to understand what happened in the last nine to twelve months of Deb's life. When I would talk to her or see her during this time, especially in the last three months, I wanted to say "what did you do with deb," "where did she go," but I did not know how exactly. I was at a loss to know what to do with the information that did not coincide with who I experienced and perceived Deb was and had been for all the time I had known her. I always believed and thought she would pull through this rough time. How could she not - she was the most upbeat and positive woman I had ever met?

What I am left with:
DEBRA McCLINTON was one of the most lovely women I have ever met & DEBRA McCLINTON was one of my favorite people in the entire world.
And she always will be.

That was the gist of my tribute (part written, part memory, and part added) for Deb at her memorial last Friday.
Last week was the roughest and saddest week of my life as I am sure it was for many of you who frequent Deb's blog.
There were so many times last week where I would be doing something, anything, and I would start thinking about Deb. Then Frankie. Then Deb and Frankie. I was pushing my daughter in a grocery cart at Whole Foods buying brussel sprouts and all I could think was "how is it possible that Deb wanted to leave the world in which she could do the same with Frankie?" She loved doing that kind of thing. She loved Frankie so much. I thought the same thing when I was broiling the brussel sprouts on Thanksgiving day (Deb would have loved that too) while listening to NPR talk about the day's events all the while wondering how Deb's passing was not being discussed on NPR. It felt that big and that newsworthy. It felt huge and as the woman spoke about the death toll in Iraq all I could think about was Deb and how painful and magnanimous her no longer walking this earth felt. All that mattered to me and so many people I know is that fact.
I am still sorting out for myself how it could possibly have happened and I have had flickers of understanding that I may never fully know, which is both hard and liberating at the same time.
I did a job yesterday in the hopes that going on location and preoccupying my mind with a shoot would help my grieving Deb. In theory it sounded good, but in reality it didn't work so well. It ended up being the kind of job Deb would have loved. "Woman leaves Hollywood for Sonoma County to start a goat milk ice creamery, get married, buy a house overlooking the valley, and have a baby...."
The woman was lovely (Deb would have talked with her for hours and the woman would have had a huge crush on deb), Deb would have loved the beautiful day (68 degrees and sunny), the amazing location, the playful goats, and the delicious ice cream. Deb would have never wanted to leave.
I thought of Deb every 5 to 10 minutes of the shoot yesterday and I have a feeling I will be thinking of Deb everyday for the rest of my life.

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