Memorial For Debra Weyermann

This is a repost from my old blog “Pastures of Plenty”. I offer this because my brother has opened an Indigogo campaign to raise money for a memorial service for Debra Weyermann, his wife and my sister-in-law. This remarkable woman deserves a memorial service to match her amazing life and career. Thanks for reading this. Please share on Facebook. Thanks again, y’all. Peace out.

Debra “Dee” Weyermann

Somewhere in the high mountain desert southwest there sits a wannabe writer, faced with a sacred task, not yet stirred by early morning caffeine, at 5 AM MDT, and he bows his head repeatedly. Grief? Awe? Nostalgia? Nope, not nostalgia, but the rest of it is true.

It is a morning in early May of 2013. Air temperature in the upper teens, I step outside, onto the front porch where the vista of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, looking like a cardboard cutout in the twilight, shine a French blue-gray aura up into the lightening sky. I would usually stay out and listen for coyote songs in the dark but it is too friggin cold this morning. As it turns out, coyotes were sacred symbology for the woman who has me feeling blue on this beautiful morning. Coyote, symbolizing balance, creation. A trickster? Yes. But also a transformer. I’d heard the story, from her widower, who is also my biological brother.
Headed away from an early gig as a journalist nearly fresh out of the University of Missouri, she was driving into her new town, to her new gig. On the outskirts of Tucson, Arizona, she is accosted by a beast. It steps out of the deep shadows of the roadside, into her headlights, and turns to face the approaching car. Debra Weyermann is instantly transfixed by the plucky critter and brakes the car to a stop while she and Coyote gaze at one another. No words are exchanged, of course. Animals can’t talk, right?
I got the news from my crushed brother on the Ides of March. Debra, his wife, had died. His phone call interrupted an afternoon nap, a call both welcomed and blinding in its immediacy. Within 48 hours I was perched in my little car and headed back east to see my brother. After a three day drive I arrive into a scene that has become rapidly surreal; a sudden and unexpected death deeply etching the features in the landscape of a new world.
It would be easy to get all flowery in this morning’s prose, but I will tone it down and get to the point. It’s about the coyote. And the magic. And Debra.
If you’d like to get a richly written picture of her journalistic prowess have a look at this memorial op-ed written by Kathleen Sharp, published in  The Santa Barbara Independent. But Debra’s journalistic creds were counterpoint to what I experienced as I dove head first into the place she had just departed from. There were phone calls, letting friends and colleagues know of the tragic news. I was there for company, to lend an ear, for whatever a passive little brother could provide. And I heard the names, of journalists on a level that made me sit up and take notice. In this writer’s mind the names and their connected publications all congealed into the semblance of a picture of the stature of a . . . . . . Here is where I sigh, take a deep breath. A death in the family mandates grieving. Ashes to ashes –  you know the drill.
I’ll leave the erudite commentary to the professionals at this point and tell you, right here, right now, that it was the magic of the situation that engulfed me in my journey back east. You see, I too have had mystical encounters with coyotes that pop right out of a perfectly normal day. I had not known that about my sister-in-law, but I learned. The knowledge gave our kinship a whole new light. Here’s why.
In the legends of some Native American Peoples, notably the Caddo and the Maidu, Coyote is the one who made Death permanent; once loved ones are gone, they never come back. We all know that. We are cool, rational beings in a seemingly chaotic world, so we know that death is final. The end. But what we may fail to remember is that Coyote is also known as a cosmic-class trickster. So, my point is?
There is no point to magic. It happens. And me? My writing is about death and dying, about healing and mystery. My book, Theater of Clouds, tells the tale of my apparent crossing over the threshold of death, and of what it was like to return from such a thing. Having gone that route, I am always a little wary of the details in the passing of someone who amazes in retrospect. I come to know my sister-in-law only after her death. Is death permanent?
Is Life permanent? Yes. When somebody rises up and shines beyond the pale of a normal life, it is. That’s what I’m sayin’.
Peace out, y’all. Time for me to go to my day job.

Debra’s Final Writer’s Studio

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