(Disclaimer: This post will contain a higher number of typos than usual because my eyes keep going all blurry.)
I have a degree in English from one of the top tier universities in this country, if not the world. I have had three novels published, sold some stories and have a pretty well-developed vocabulary, and yet, today, I am at a loss for words. One of the finest human beings I have ever known is leaving this world for the next. It is imminent and I cannot stop it, though I am selfish enough to want to do. My friend Debbie is the kindest and most generous person I have ever known. She gifted me with love and friendship. She has taken in more “strays” – including me – than any shelter. She has always thought of others before herself, given instead of taken. She has always been there for me when I needed her. I can only hope she would say the same of me; I hope I have never let her down or taken her for granted. I don’t think I have, but she wouldn’t have told me if I did because Debbie always puts others’ feelings first.
We have bonded over shared experiences over the last (almost) quarter of a century. Like the time we were in Las Vegas, we stayed up all night at the Four Queens. Debbie turned two dollars in to four hundred and we went back to the hotel, picked up Louise, her daughter, and went to breakfast at Circus, Circus. Midnight trips to Walmart were the norm because that was only time she get away to do her shopping. I was game; Debbie was fun to be around. We shared cups of coffee; copious amounts of coffee, in fact. I wrote my first novel on her computer while she slept in the bed next to me, then I would quietly shut it down and drive home. When I had enough of the situation I was in at home, she took me in – and, I have no doubt, caught flak from her family for it. But Debbie did what her heart told her to do and she always made her decisions according to her own conscience and no one else’s.
I remember riding in the van with her one day shortly after meeting her. She drove around this parking a couple of times. I didn’t know her well enough to ask what she was doing, but them she went through the McDonald’s drive through (though it may have been a Wendy’s; it’s been almost 25 years) and bought a hamburger. She drove around that same parking lot and then stopped and then I saw the homeless man. Deb rolled down her window and asked him, “Have you eaten today?” Then she handed the man the bag of food and drove off. She was always doing that kind of thing. Debbie walked her walk. You knew she was a Christian, not because she went around talking about it or quoting her book or anything like that. You knew it because she lived the kind of faith that I think would make that gentle carpenter from Nazareth say, “Now THAT’S what I was talking about! Any questions, ask Debbie because she gets it.” Of course, Debbie would have humbly denied that.
I am not a Christian; I tried it once and it doesn’t suit me. Debbie never held that against me, never judged, but simply asked me questions about what I did believe because she loved me and was my friend, nodded, and accepted me just as I am. And continued to walk her walk and live her faith. I will never believe what she did, but I love her, my dear, dear friend and, if I may presume, my sister of the heart, and because I love her, I will try to honour her memory by trying to be as kind and as generous as she was. I will never be as good as she was, but I will try. I am so grateful I was able to tell her just how I feel about her a couple of months ago.
I love you, Deb. Miss your face.