Wake Up Calls

They come loudly right in the middle of life…wake up calls. We all get them. Sometimes we sit up and pay attention. Sometimes we go back to doing whatever we were doing. This week I got a wake up call and was reminded that we do not have the promise of tomorrow. We’re not even promised the rest of the day.

Everyone leaves footprints in your memory, but the ones that leave footprints in your heart are the ones you will truly remember.”
~Nicholas Sperling.

She could be rather bossy and sometimes just down right bitchy. She was opinionated and not afraid to share that with you. She was extremely organized and neat and really…you could eat off of her floors. She was THAT clean! And she had one of the biggest hearts I’d ever known. Her door was always open. She would go into debt to get you those tires for your truck that you needed. She would spend her last dollar to feed your silly face. She took care of everyone, no matter who you were or what you’d done. She loved to grill and she was a really really good cook. Her name was Debra.

We spent countless hours on her patio, laughing and talking til all hours of the night. Eating everything under the sun cooked on the grill. Telling jokes…but sometimes getting serious and really sharing our hearts.

Twice in the past Debra had opened up her home to us while we were looking for a home. Or…more correctly…while we were homeless. The last time we lived with her we didn’t even have jobs. Hard times for sure, but Debra had a big heart.

This past Monday, Memorial Day, while I was honoring the brave soldiers who had given their lives for our country, I also learned that Debra had died that morning. Today I attended a Memorial for her. She was only 54.

And with a little time, I should be able to move on. But it had been 3 years since I’d seen Debra. It had probably been over a year since I’d even talked to her on the phone.

Years ago, on a Saturday morning, while Debra was finishing up the laundry and sweeping the floor (she sure could multi-task), and I was bouncing Little Miss ASIJ on my hip, she said something to me that hurt me. Bad. I tried to let it go but couldn’t.

Then one night I met her for a drink. Debra had already been drinking for awhile. Through all her laughter, Debra really had a troubled soul and sometimes just needed to talk it out. We got to talking and then she said something that just blew me away. I couldn’t believe she said it. She’d been drinking and probably didn’t even remember she said it the next day…I should have let it go. But I nursed that wound like a war wound. For years when I’d talk to her it would always be in the back of my mind. Three years ago we went to see her because I was trying to find some help for Big Son ASIJ and she had connections. That was the last time I saw her.

She would call and leave voice mails and I would never return them. She finally stopped calling. But I always thought I’d talk to her again.

Debra was always there for me and my family when we needed her. During the last painful months of her life when she was very ill…I didn’t even know it and was nowhere to be found. When she could have used a friend – I wasn’t there.

I learned about her death on Facebook for Pete’s sake.

Now I know if Debra were sitting beside me out on the patio tonight, she would laugh and say “Good grief, stop beating yourself up. Let it go. Here…are you sure you don’t want another piece of steak?”


One thing I know…if there are grills in Heaven…her and God’s sure eatin’ good tonight.

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