Debbi prepared perfect antipasti: crackers, cheese, meats, artichoke dip and olives, and at least eight bottles of Italian beverages sat next to a full ice bucket. A video from our 2007 Italy spa vacation played silently on their TV while candles flickered all around the house. Debbi displayed pictures from our times together: weddings, cheerleader days, travel adventures, class reunions. Rick won an argument and picked up the pizza himself instead of having it delivered. Personally, I think he needed a quiet moment.
The Kightlinger home soon filled with an eclectic bunch of guests: a few folks from one of Debbi’s book clubs, her mom, daughter and granddaughter, Rick’s mom and sister, fellow teachers from Bell Gardens High School and some of Debbi and Rick’s closest friends. Debbi’s mother, Barbara, was like a second mom to me while growing up, so it was especially nice to spend time with her. During the book discussion, guests asked thoughtful questions about my novel and writing process. After everyone left, Debbi and I shared a few quiet minutes before I headed upstairs to sleep.
This morning, I’m struggling to find the words to express what Debbi’s friendship means to me. In The Vernazza Effect, the first time Ella tells Jack that she loves him, she mentions how these simple words—I love you—feel so trite. Ella thought the words barely conveyed the depth of her feelings for Jack. That’s how I feel about Debbi.
As always, she took a ton of pictures, and I’ll post them to my website later. Tonight she’s hosting a second party for another book club. It’s a sit-down affair with serious readers. Of course the menu is Italian: Left over antipasti, homemade lasagna, salad and gelato. Debbi does theme parties better than anyone I know.
She and I have been best friend since 7th grade. We’ve helped each other deal with many life issues, and we share secrets that no one else knows. I expect to do some inspiring travels with her after she retires, and I know we’ll be dear friends until we take our last breath.
What I don’t know is how I got so darn lucky to have her in my life. I love you, Deb.