You know how sometimes you can smell something, or hear a piece of music and you will be instantly transported back to a time and a place you associate with that sense? Well, sometimes, all it takes is an email.
I met Peter and Deborah when I was twelve years old. I was walking the downtown of my home town, bold as brass, stopping into stores to ask for work. At twelve.
Just in front of me on the hill, there was a little girl with white blonde hair playing on the steps to a store. I stopped and talked to her, completely beguiled by her faery-like looks, her bright enormous blue eyes and her absolute openness and sunny demeanour. Her name was Emily. She was three years old. She told me it was her parent’s store and so I went inside.
The Space Between was a beautiful little store and everywhere I looked there were things that caught my attention in a totally 12 year old way. I didn’t want the ‘things’. I wanted to be among them every day. It was like stepping into another world, which is likely what they were going for. Emily took me by the hand and introduced me to her parents. They were thrilled with my gumption to ask for employment and they gave it to me. Not in the store, but as Emily’s babysitter. Thus began a friendship and a second family that has lasted until this day.
I was like Emily’s older sister. Nine years between us and we were together all the time. Her family integrated with mine and we melded together. I went with her family on holidays, they came to my parents house all the time. Emily and I parted ways as caregiver and child when I was around 18 and fell pregnant with my oldest and she stopped needing me around to watch her as much, but we never got out of touch. Our relationship just changed as she was getting ready for her teen years and I was busy saying goodbye to mine. But Peter and Deborah, I loved them as secondary parents. I made it a point to say hello whenever I came back to my home town for a visit.
A few years ago, Deb became very ill. I only saw her twice in that time. But she was still Deb to me, no matter how much weight fell off her already small frame. When she passed away, I felt it physically.
I’m thinking about her today after an email from Peter. We live so far away from him now, different provinces and yet, when I read his words it’s his voice I hear in my head. When I see Deb’s name on the screen, it’s her smile that lights up in my mind.
So today, Deborah, I think of you. I think of the many conversations we had and the many, many hugs. I think of the times I listened to you sing and the way you always made me feel like my voice was so important. I think of you and I know that even though you are gone, you are not always far away. I can call you up whenever I want and listen to your wisdom and laughter, because you will always live on, in me.