Thursday, November 24, 2005

Sarah: Friend, Colleague, and Roommate

At the hospital when I first sent the page to anyone I could think of about Sarah’s sudden death, the expected responses were “It can’t be” and “this is a joke, right?”. The largest percentage of responses I received via page, email, AIM, and in person – I should’ve seen it coming - were: “That’s impossible – we were talking ‘til 3 am last night and she was fine!!”.

Sarah valued her friends everyday. She usually talked to someone on pager or on line – I can’t begin to fathom how many people Sarah talked to each day. She appreciated people from all walks of life and made attempts to learn about their culture and even, languages. Sarah also had the gift of the gab – the stamina and energy to carry conversations on line and in person. Sarah used her inexhaustive supply of skills to help her friends with PR, as an editor and provided logisitical support for their businesses and projects.

I am sure it is the same for everyone else – she made a dent in my life. She transferred to my 6th grade class and put up with my SEE communication methods and my arrogance that the “hearing impaired” mainstreamed program we attended in the Guilderland school district was the best. And I didn’t know there were certified and non certified interpreters. She was also my first girl friend.. The last three years it was me and Chris and I took every opportunity to torture (payback) Chris with Sarah. The summer after sixth grade, she introduced me to Camp Isola Bella, the Deaf Mecca for me at the time. After seventh grade, Sarah moved to Connecticut so it was Chris and I again, albeit more mature. Fast forward 3 years – I visited Sarah at MSSD and ended up transferring there the following fall.

After high school, we pretty much parted ways and reconnected shortly after 9/11. I was back in the States for Christmas holiday from graduate school and I’d found out she was working for New York Society for the Deaf. She encouraged me to seek employment after I completed my graduate studies. I decided to move to New York as opposed to returning to DC where I’d lived for seven years.

I worked with Sarah for 2 years at NYSD before she left to pursue MSW studies at NYU. It was a great opportunity to see her work and interact with deaf adults with developmental disabilities with addiction problems, and those recovering from 9/11 and lastly case management. Sarah had immense patience with the most difficult of clients and was very knowledgeable of resources to meet most of their needs. I was also blown away by her ability to empathize and keeping her wits about her – the population is not easy to work with. She also knew her limits yet she compensated for them. She was my crutch and I came to her about questions and tools to help clients. She provided no shortage of useful advice and ideas.

Sarah decided to further challenge herself by applying for NYU’s prestigious Masters of Social Work program and she thrived on it. Sarah, for the first time was really able to utilize the education and skills from the 9 years she gained from the social services field. She wowed her professors, her classmates, and agencies she interned with. For a first in this town, Sarah constructed a Comprehensive New York City Access Resource Guide for Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and Deaf Blind (2004 Edition). Sarah was a rising star and had so much to contribute to the Social Work field. She had ideas to improve infrastructure for social services for and by the deaf people. I joked that she ought to be a consult or a ‘plumber’ to fix agencies nation wide and she said, “No, I prefer to focus on New York City.” She recognized that even though NYC had short comings providing services for the deaf, et cetera, she knew that the city's diverse population would be complemented by the deaf, hard of hearing and deaf-blind professionals.

Sarah had dignity in the best and worst situation – that is rare.

I've been roommates with Sarah for just over two years now - she was certainly one of my better ones. I thank her for lending an ear (or eye?) to my whineging and dispensing some advice. We were each other's soundboards, personally and professionally.

Sarah lived her life to the fullest and I wish her best of luck with her endeavors, wherever she is.

The name Sarah is derived from Hebrew meaning “Princess”. Sarah is truly the People’s Princess.


Blogger gamma888 said...

was it your eulogy for sarah's memorial service?

if so, that was a very eloquent speech.

we will miss her dearly.

11/27/2005 3:05 AM  
Blogger breenie said...

something like that, thanks. no, i didn't get a chance to speak at the service. many people (deaf and hearing, personal and professional) came forward and it was nice hearing those words.

11/27/2005 3:40 AM  
Blogger breenie said...

I mean their words about Sarah :)

11/27/2005 3:40 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Very nice!

11/27/2005 9:04 AM  
Blogger Ridor said...

Well written, KB.

It certainly touched my heart.


11/28/2005 5:43 AM  
Blogger Wildstarryskies said...


11/28/2005 5:39 PM  
Anonymous ilene said...

beautiful heartfelt words for a sorely missed magnificent person.. ilene

11/28/2005 8:06 PM  
Anonymous Perlis said...

what you wrote was just PERFECT! Funny TG and I were talking on the subway and we both felt that most people who were friends with Sarah probably only knew maybe 20% to 25% of Sarah. But she had this most amazing ability to make you feel like you were uno numero when you were with her.
My throat still clenches when I read people's comments and memories about Pack :( I sure miss her but I know I will see her again in the afterlife, along with Chanda.

11/30/2005 3:41 PM  

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