Remembering and Gratitude for Deb
Deborah Dempesy died last evening, at home with her wife and family holding her. I am writing and thinking about her this morning because I loved her and because she managed these final months of life with astonishing wisdom and grace and courage. I have surely known other women who, each in her own way, did the same. What was different about Deb was her activism and public efforts towards acknowledging the inevitability of death and trying to prepare for it with dignity.
Deb was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in January 2014. Initially told that she had less than a year to live, she stretched it for two and half years of mostly good time. Since her younger sister had died of the same illness several years ago, she was completely without denial and understood her future. She was determined to mange the end of her life in a way that would bring as much peace and comfort as possible to both her and to her family. Towards that end, she continued with aggressive chemotherapy and treatment until March of this year when it became clear that there was nothing that would bring more benefit than harm. At that point, she gracefully transitioned to hospice care and has been at home in the subsequent weeks.
Deb planned and hosted a celebration of her life party last August. It was a luau at a local hotel with music and dancing and drinks with little umbrellas and friends from all parts of her life. Plenty of tears, but much more love and laughter.
I am going to close here with an email that Deb sent to me last December. It includes several links to her State House testimony and other efforts to advance the cause of death with dignity. Well done and God speed, dear Deborah.
Subject: Fwd: HESTER : THREE VIDEO AND AUDIOS // STATE HOUSE AUDIO; FAMILY AUDIO ABOUT DEATH AND DIGNITY; VIDEO WITH ME AND ODTTYDOT
Choose Link #2
This is the main website and then my testimonial.
I initially was the first testimonial. with my daughter and little sister.
Its still there - look for “Deborah”.
In the FIRST day - it had 6000+ hits on Facebook !!!! The website had just been redesigned.
This is the audio from the State House:
I hope everything is going well for you. I wanted to thank you again for telling your story - here's the edited interview that aired last Sunday:
I'm so glad you liked it! I tried to portray you and your family as accurately as possible.
I'm a sophomore in college right now, and I work as a producer at WERS to get more experience in journalism. You Are Here is our weekly public affairs show that usually focuses on current events, but once a month we run a show of more in-depth stories like this. If you want, you can listen to the rest of the show here: https://soundcloud.com/889-wers/sets/you-are-here-getting-to-point
Here's the link to the full, unedited video file: