|Night Sky, Perseid Meteor Showers|
Joshua Tree, California
photographer: Carl Jackson
When I drove out to the desert on Thursday with a friend to watch the Perseid meteor showers, I knew that my friend Alison Piepmeier was dying. Alison was a beautiful woman whom I met online many years ago and with whom I spoke several times over the years on the telephone. She was a badass and a kickass professor of women's and gender studies at the College of Charleston. Her delightful blog Every Little Thing chronicled her life as an academic, a lover of Star Wars, a mother to her darling daughter Maybelle and, of late, her struggles with cancer treatment and death and dying. She had an infectious smile. She was working on a book about the high incidence of abortion of fetuses with Down Syndrome and worked passionately to "change the game." Her daughter Maybelle was the delight of her life, and I think that child will be held with love in the minds and hearts of tens of thousands of people who were fortunate to know her a bit through her mother's writing. Alison appeared in the Extreme Parenting Video Project that I made years ago, her smile brilliant and her hair thick and curly. She was a dogged and passionate advocate for the disadvantaged and the disabled. She wrote a brilliant and moving essay in the final weeks of her life that will tell you everything about what kind of soul she possessed.
She died of a brain tumor in the early hours of Friday morning, surrounded by her husband and family and friends. She was 43 years old.
I saw many meteors on Thursday night and into Friday morning, light shooting across the sky, one after the other, the desert still and vast, implacable. I thought of Alison and her passage from this world to the next, how grateful we were to have her here and how much we will miss her.
Listen to and read these:
Down Syndrome and Equality
Thank You For My Beautiful Life