Requiem for a Writer

Requiem for a Writer
By Linda Monsees Stump © 2015
08-13-2013 DebbieThe Writers’ Night Out group lost one of our own this autumn. Debbie Oxenford passed away on October 2, 2015 of pancreatic cancer.
Debbie and I were the only two remaining from the inaugural meeting of Writers’ Night Out, which was conceived early in 2001 by Llewellyn authors Silver RavenWolf and Ray Malbrough as a forum for local writers. Over the nearly fifteen years we have been meeting, Writers’ Night Out has experienced a great deal of change. Members have left the group due to life changes, personal or professional commitments, and new writers have joined to infuse the group with a fresh dynamic. But along with all the changes, something very special happened. From a diverse group with varied writing styles and genres of works-in-progress, we bonded and became friends. In addition to our writing, we shared life’s joys and sorrows – from marriages, divorces, car accidents, moving house, and the births and deaths of human and animal family members. We’ve cheered each other’s successes and consoled and supported each other during the hard times; in doing so, we became family of the heart.
Debbie was an accomplished musician who played the hammered dulcimer, a certified astrology expert, and a storyteller who loved taking part in events where she could tell stories of myth and legend. She also had one of her poems published in an anthology. One of her most popular columns for Writers’ Night Out was her astrology column entitled Pluto Rising. Her insightful readings of real individuals whose names were withheld for privacy, generated a lot of interest. Her favorite short story was one she wrote for a group project several years ago that we called “Thanksgiving at Pea Patch” – in which a family reunion took place in an Appalachian mountain campground, a scenario that provided the characters with all sorts of humorous challenges! Each writer had to come up with a character profile and incorporate the characters created by other writers into his or her story. Debbie based her character on her father; she enjoyed it so much that she was working on a longer piece incorporating the same character.
Debbie experienced a lot of difficulty in her life, yet she maintained an attitude of gratitude. Debbie was a very caring person who, while she often lacked confidence in her own abilities, was quick to praise and encourage others. She was a gentle soul who took pleasure in the simple things in life –her cat, music, walks in nature, and time with friends. She had the ability to fully be in and appreciate the moment, and she savored the memories of a day out that we shared for months afterward.
Debbie was diagnosed with terminal cancer last year and endured surgeries and chemotherapy. When she felt up to it, she would still attend Writers’ Night Out meetings and enjoyed getting together with everyone. As her condition deteriorated, I think we all found it difficult to focus on our writing. Now, as we mourn her passing, we will celebrate her life. She is no longer in pain and she is at peace, reunited with her parents and her beloved cat, Nutmeg.
The Writers’ Night Out group will be back to writing again – because that’s just one of the ways we get through difficulty and loss. Though no longer physically with us, Debbie will always remain one of the best parts of the Writers’ Night Out story.
The Scottish poet Thomas Campbell wrote, “To live in the hearts of those we love is not to die.” Debbie will live on in the hearts of all of us who loved her and treasured her friendship.

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