April 5, 2008

Some readings from the Asheville memorial service

Read by Kathryn Ruff Hildreth:

Here is the passage I read at Debbie's memorial. It is from Toni Morrison's Sula, one of the greatest stories of friendship in American literature. We felt because Debbie was so close to so many people, and because she brought out the best in those around her, this particular passage would be a fitting tribute to her.

Debbie was a brilliant and warm conversationalist. I remember vividly many of our talks over the years. I miss her and think of her every day.


Her old friend had come home. Sula. Who made her laugh, who made her see old things with new eyes, in whose presence she felt clever, gentle, and a little raunchy. Sula, whose past she had lived through and with whom the present was a constant sharing of perceptions. Talking to Sula had always been a conversation with herself. Was there anyone else before whom she could never be foolish? In whose view inadequacy was a mere idiosyncrasy, a character trait than a deficiency? Anyone who left behind that aura of fun and complicity? Sula never competed; she simply helped others define themselves.
—Toni Morrison's Sula

Read by Holly Ruff:
Sing Me to Heaven

In my heart's sequestered chambers lie truths stripped
of poet's gloss.
Words alone are vain and vacant and my heast is mute.
In response to aching silence, memory summons
half-heard voices, and my soul finds primal eloquence
and wraps me in song.

If you would comfort me, sing me a lullaby. If you
would win my heart, sing me a love song. If you would
mourn me and bring me to God, sing me a requiem, sing
me to heaven.
Touch in me, all love and passion, pain and pleasure,
Touch in me, grief and comfort; love and passion, pain
and pleasure.

Sing me a lullaby, a love song, a requiem. Love me,
comfort me, bring me to God. Sing me a love song, sing
me to heaven.
—Danile Gawthrop; text by Jane Griner

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