Monday, January 5, 2009

Monday Memory: In Memory of Dee Ann

In the shuffle of our daily lives, with meals to fix and homes to clean and places to go, our mortality jumps out at us and our memories demand attention. The news spread across our Facebook college connections yesterday that Dee Ann had died, suddenly and shockingly. We gasp collectively and grasp for understanding. How? What? Huh? We search 20 years back for memories, sifting through mind-pictures of talks on sweet spring nights on the steps of a dorm on a tiny campus where everyone knows each other, beneath the shadow of Buffalo Mountain.

You can remember the smell of the lilacs and the voices yelling out across campus, cars driving in and out and the way the steps still held the warmth of a southern April day. You remember the way she tossed her hair and her soft, musical voice and the way she laughed, as close to a "tinkling laugh" as you've ever heard.

One day she showed me her heart-shaped engagement ring and I felt the hard slap of jealousy, as my own love-life crumbled around me. And I remember during our senior year when she announced, "I can't do this anymore" after her broken engagement, and she left college mid-semester. When she came back next semester, I could see she was newly reckless and fragile, and I could know her better, then, with cracks.

And then years of Christmas cards and photos and a visit during our Iowa years, when our children were small. Then nothing for years, during a time I later found out was a crumbling in her life. I thought of her sometimes during those quiet years but not enough to make me pick up the phone and find her. Because we have all the time in the world, and eventually we'll reconnect.

Except there are two children left without their mom, a man left without his friend and former wife, a daughterless mother, a sisterless brother. Just like that, without time to make a video telling her kids how much she loved them or to even sort through her old letters and memorabilia. Without time to reconnect.

It is this photo, taken on our graduation day, that hit me full force yesterday. My husband in his Mickey Mouse t-shirt, and these two funny, sad, clever friends who were quite evenly matched with their quick-witted quips and sarcasm.

Rest in peace, randy and Dee Ann.

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.
~Edna St. Vincent Millay


  1. sarah. i was so shocked to hear. it's crazy how memories come flooding back. deeann lived right down the hall from me my freshman and sophomore year. she took me in like a little sis. i can still hear her calling me sweet pea. i looked up to her and idolized her so much. i couldn't believe when shawn asked me to sing with her in that crazy college band. i thought i had arrived:). wow. she had this great shirt that i borrowed all the time. she looked so great in it and i thought if i wore the shirt i would too....HA!

    i love your post. even though it is so sad to read. may we never take anything for granted.

  2. Thank you Sarah for your thoughts. It brings back fond memories of our days at Milligan. I was very sad to hear the news that Dee Ann had passed away. I was just an aquaintance of hers during our days at college, but can still see her face and remember a retreat that we attended together our freshman year.

  3. Sarah...
    What a profoundly beautiful remembrance you have written! I don't think I knew Deeann very well- some memory fails me- but your words bring her love and beauty to life.

    Thank you for putting your heart into words.

    Jim Street

  4. I'm sorry to hear about the passing of your friend, Sarah.


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