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Relentless Medical Smack Down, or Surprise Families Are the Best Kind
The first few years of their marriage proved to be a period of hope, evolution, and growing domesticity. The marriage ceremony itself seemed to cast the shape of their lives in the mold they had been building since the early days of their relationship. Neither of them ever quite fit into the outside world, and they treasured the feeling of absolute safety and trust between them.
Every night, Deb continued to read to her to sleep and Gail cooked fantastic meals when she had a night off from nursing at the Pride Unit at ChicagoLakeshoreHospital. Once a year around the first of May, they snuck into a forest preserve to make love beneath the moon to celebrate Beltaine, a Pagan fertility holiday. They took more spontaneous trips to Wisconsin for cheese, and a few in the middle of the night to check in on Gail’s teenaged daughter Brycee when Gail’s worry about her youngest got to be too much for her.
Grad school at Columbia College Chicago was still grueling yet rewarding for Deb, and she continued to grow as a writer. In yet another huge departure from her normally introspective nature, she started teaching introductory fiction classes at Columbia. Though it was a struggle moving from having a firm, unwavering focus on her own work to having to coach other people along on their own artistic path, but she gave it her all and soon showed promise as a professor.
Deb exhibited such genuine, earnest concern with helping her students grow that many of Deb’s colleagues recommended she and Gail have children, but that’s where she drew the line. “No, no, no,” Deb recalls saying. “I’m very self-absorbed, thank you very much. I like my writing, my reading, I like thinking complete thoughts.” The level of responsibility, patience, and energy it takes to raise children had never been something she
saw herself capable of giving. Gail, on the other hand, loved children and babies, and there was no shortage of them around their house.
Every summer, Gail’s three children from her oldest daughter, Heather, would come to stay with them. Heather was divorcing her husband at the time and developing an addiction to methamphetamines. Each summer Gail and Deb
would have to draw the children out of the haze living in such turmoil created before returning them to their mother.
In October of 2002, Heather had her fourth child, Mollie, who was born six weeks early, septic, and pronounced as a failure to thrive. Heather’s drug addiction was reaching a fever pitch. Deb and Gail went to visit and check on the kids several times, but couldn’t do more than buy clothes or other necessities. Heather threatened to cut them out of her life and the kids lives completely if they tried to do anything more. Deb refused to hold Mollie, not wanting to get attached to a baby that was surely not long for this world.