Inktober, and goodbye to sweet, funny Debbie Sarow

For the last week or so I’ve been really sick and not “arting” (I like to make up words – bonus if they rhyme with “farting”) so I was grateful to Inktober for making it easy to get five words into one image so I can play catch-up a little easier.

Not sure what I caught, but two other people in my house caught it, too. They don’t have fibromyalgia, though, so they’re well over it. I’m going on day 10 and still coughing. Chronic illnesses drag out “regular” illnesses. If you’re used to getting over a cold in a week, with fibro you can extend that to two weeks, and then add on a recovery week where you’re not symptomatic but you just can’t move. It’s…..tiring. Weak, Scorch, Drain, and Swollen are words that all go to being sick.

Goodbye, Debbie, I’ll miss you

Breakable goes to what happened to my heart today, when I found out that Debbie had died. Debbie Sarow is – was – the owner of Mercer Street Books, my favorite bookstore in Seattle. It’s a tiny little thing, tucked into a long, narrow space right down the block from the Pagliacci’s, but when you stepped inside you were suddenly in a warm, welcoming, book-filled slice of heaven. Deliciously high wooden shelves line every wall and form three long aisles down the center, there is art everywhere (just look up!), and well-loved plants are perched on every available surface. I could live there quite comfortably.

Greg and Jason and I went in today, to sell back books, like we have a few dozen times before over the last eight years. Debbie always remembers us, and she and I would talk and talk. The routine was always us dragging in bags of books, then walking off to get dinner, then coming back to find she’d sorted through everything and had our credit ready. Then we walked around the store for an hour or so, shopped until we’d burned through our fresh credit, and headed out. Half the time Greg would be waiting by the door, our transaction complete, while Debbie and I finished our conversation. One time there was no one else in the store and he had to wait half an hour for she and I to be done (thankfully he had lots to read).

I didn’t know Debbie socially outside the store, so I will admit I was surprised at my own reaction to finding out she’d passed away. We came in to see someone else manning her desk, which was odd. Debbie was always there. I’d never been in the store when she wasn’t. The new person was helping another customer, so my eyes fell to the table next to the desk, where enticing new arrivals are usually set. Instead, there are pictures of Debbie, and a notice explaining her passing. Greg had gone to park the car, and Jason was standing, politely waiting for the clerk to be ready to help us. I felt disbelief, so sharp – this was so impossible – how could she have died? And then I burst into tears. I stepped behind Jason and hid my head against his jacket, and just cried.

For years I’ve known that I get so much out of the small exchanges that happen with the people I interact with every week in our neighborhood. It’s a vitally important part of my life, and its deterioration here is a big reason we’re moving.  Debbie was one of my favorite people. She was a link to the city, a link to books, to intelligent conversation, to a relaxed comfortableness that I just can’t find in hyper-busy, overcrowded Seattle anymore. She had a hilarious, dry sense of humor, and we cracked each other up. Bonding over laughter is my favorite kind, and we’d often said we should go get coffee. I wish we had! She was just a lovely person. I’m going to miss her very much. I’m so sorry for her family and friends, who had the chance to know her so much better than I did. Their pain must be very great.

When we left, I noticed Debbie’s hat and coat, still there. I loved her coats, she had great taste in clothes.

Goodbye Debbie! I’ll miss you. Much love, wherever you are. ❤

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