Saturday, July 13, 2013

Remembering Debbie.

Visiting with Debbie a a couple days before she passed away I was brought back to my little one bedroom apartment where I took care of my mom for so long.  Seeing her lay in her bed all but in a coma with all same noises and the smell of sanitizers and medicines brought back a flood of memories.  All kinds of memories; good, bad, emotional and happy and sad.  Debbie was sick for a long time.  She fought like a true warrior and no matter how many of her vital organs decided to stop working, her heart was so strong that it refused to stop pumping the fluid of life through her veins.  Even after she said her last word, she laid there for a over a week motionless except for the few involuntary twitches brought on by neuropathy, tumors, medicine and who knows what else.  She remained strong until the end, as well as beautiful as the day I met her over 22 years ago.  If her head was not shaved she would have simply looked like she was sleeping.  She did not lose color, she did not lose her positive energy and she did not lose her spirit, even though she never said a word, she was a strong presence.

I met Debbie over 22 years ago and she quickly became one of my '5 moms.'  We all grew up in the same neighborhood in Anaheim and our families evolved into the closest group of friends you could imagine.  For about 10 years between the kids in the families and the adults being just as close of friends, we were with each other nearly everyday in one way or another.  As we aged and went to different schools, the kids didn't see each other as much, but the original parental groups stayed just as close.  My father has spent nearly every weekend of the past 22 years with that group of friends in one way or another.  Camping trips, river trips and family vacations galore; Debbie was always the one who maintained herself when most of the group couldn't put down their beers down even after they probably should have.  She was the logical thinker who talked the group out of numerous things that no doubt would have led to possible imprisonment or fines.  The calm little butterfly with a heart of gold.  

In my mind it is hard to understand the bond that they had with each other.  I have a very small group of exceptionally close friends, most of which I met in high school and the others my childhood friends.  It seems odd that our families did not meet until my parents were well into their 30's with established jobs and pre-existing friends, but none the less when we all met it was almost as if we became one large family over night.  

Debbie was always the quieter one.  She was the calm little flower that kept the peace in those times where friendly tempers flared or when things got a little rough.  She was the backbone that kept her husband and children together through all the stuff they had to go through.  Jessica has always been her pride and Little Mike has always been her joy.  Her husband and her have been inseparably in love since their youth and nothing could tear them apart.  Debbie fought till her last breath to try stay a little longer just so she could feel her families presence.  She was so close to seeing her first grandchild that it is tragic, but through her children's and husbands memories she will live on in all of her grandchildren's lives.  She will not be forgotten anytime soon.  She was one of the most genuine and humble people I have met and was always willing to do whatever she could do to help people.   

Even when she was in the middle of her treatment fighting breast cancer, she always supported me through my cancer.  She had such a huge heart that when the doctor told her she's not going to do as well as they had hoped, she was worried about me, not herself but who would take care and help me?  She was and is like a mother to me, to all of us.  Debbie unknowingly adopted 10 more children when she moved to Anaheim.  We all love her just as much today as we did the day we met her.  Now you get to watch all of us grow old from afar and one day we will meet again.  

Now go party with my Mom and Uncle Charlie until the rest of us get up there and save us a seat!

Ryan Coffelt

Cancer really sucks.

"Seeing death as the end of life is like seeing the horizon as the end of the ocean."
  David Searls 


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