She was the first one in her family to go to college and left for the University of Texas after attending a local junior college. She bled orange and white and I can vividly remember her teaching me how to Hook ‘Em. I can remember her putting a Texas sticker on my grandparents car when she was home one weekend and how proud they were.
My first wedding to ever attend was hers and I thought I was big stuff as the flower girl even though I refused to actually throw the petals. She loved me anyway.
Debbie was successful in the business world and I remember interviewing her about her career when I was in 5th grade. I had no clue what a sales rep was but I totally wanted to be just like her when I grew up.
Never would I have imagined a day would come when I would be about to celebrate my 45th birthday only to realize she has been gone for 27 years. Debbie was diagnosed with Hodgkins in her early thirties and after fighting with everything she had she passed away just short of her 34th birthday. I was almost 18 and I remember knowing that was really young to die but now that I’m almost 45 it is even more of a reality….life was just beginning!
Debbie’s strength during her illness was a testament to her faith. Even though my parents went to church sporadically as did my grandparents, no one in my family had ever talked openly about their faith until her. She did not hesitate to write to me about her prayer time or how having your faith gives you unbelievable strength. When I’ve looked back at her letters over the years and at different points in my life depending on where I was with my own walk I have always gained additional wisdom from her words.
She shared with me that this was the hardest thing she had ever been through in her life but in the same sentence would say that many blessings had come from it. As a young person reading her words I remember thinking what a grown up she was. Reading them now I almost feel the same! Even though she was 11 years younger than I am right now she had wisdom far beyond her years. This was my very first experience with someone near to my heart dying. She was so sad to be leaving everyone she loved but she was not afraid. She knew what was before her.
Debbie had found true love in her life with her sweet soul mate and she had found true love in her heart with her heavenly father. She will always be young and always be beautiful in the hearts and minds of so many. A short time after her death I wrote this poem (excuse the fact that I am clueless about poetic punctuation)
My beautiful Aunt Be Be would have turned 61 today. I can only imagine the lives she would have touched had she lived longer but feel so blessed that my life was touched in the short time she was here. Tomorrow is not a guarantee for any of us. Making intentional choices to love others, forgive when you would rather walk away, extend grace regardless of the situation and be a blessing to someone every day will fill your heart more than you can imagine.