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Yesterday, I posted about one of the many reasons that I love writing fiction: It’s nice to have total control over something. Today was one of those days when I’m reminded I have no control over much of anything.  
When I lived in San Diego many years ago, I was part of a small women’s support group. We met every other week, rotating between our houses, sharing with the sort of intimacy that women are so fortunate to enjoy. Michele Moomaugh was one of those women. To me, she was inspirational. A decade older and ever so much wiser and more worldly than me, I saw her as something of a sage. We worked for the same agency in the late seventies, Social Advocates for Youth, but she went on to start her own business and became an extraordinary businesswoman. More than that, she was generous and loving and probably the least judgmental person I’ve ever known–the sort of person every support group needs to stay grounded.
The world lost her this past weekend in an automobile accident. I’m still reeling from the news, and it’s hard to write fiction when reality is so impossible to set aside.
I’ve kept the above picture on my desk since the early eighties. I treasure it as a reminder of a time when the support of four women made a huge and positive impact on my life. From left, they’re Pilar Humphries, Suzanne Schmidt, Michele, me, and Cher Johnson.
Tomorrow, I’ll go back to writing, but tonight my thoughts are with Michele’s husband and son.

24 Comments

  1. Margo on June 5, 2007 at 8:51 am

    Diane, I’m so sorry. I don’t even know this woman and I cried after reading your blog. As you mourn her loss remember the difference she probably made in the world. She surely enriched alot of lives including yours. Peace.

  2. Diane Chamberlain on June 5, 2007 at 9:44 am

    Thanks, Margo. You’re so right about her. She did great things with her time on earth.

  3. Kathy Holmes on June 5, 2007 at 11:19 am

    Diane – I’m so sorry – the picture is so wonderful – what great memories!! And I seem to recall that sentiment expressed in “Bay” – about writing fiction because it’s the one area you can control. This news is just a reminder that perhaps nothing, even our fiction, is in our control.
    Thanks for sharing this – you’re such an inspiration just knowing that women can share such experiences.

  4. brenda on June 5, 2007 at 3:46 pm

    I am so sorry. I know exactly how you feel. Been there.

  5. Julie on June 5, 2007 at 5:02 pm

    I, like Kathy, was thinking it’s wonderful you have such a happy picture of the group together to serve as a beautiful memory of this lady and your group’s time together. I’m so sorry for your loss.

  6. Diane Chamberlain on June 5, 2007 at 5:12 pm

    Thanks, guys. My sadness is tempered today by an email from a friend who reported that Michele had told her husband the sort of “send-off” she wanted: Three big parties in the three different areas where she lived over the years, and anyone who feels like crying needs to do it outside!

  7. Robin Reid on June 18, 2007 at 2:05 am

    Michele was my business partner for over 15 years and we were the best of friends. I am reeling also … like so many of us here in San Diego who knew her and loved her.
    Her husband has announced celebrations at Bajamar for June 30, and San Diego for July 28.
    Thanks you for the wonderful picture and tribute.

  8. Ed Brewer on June 18, 2007 at 6:10 am

    Diane, thank you so much for your kind words. Michele was a very special person and she touched so many people during her time. I am thankful to have had my 15 years with such an independant spirit. She taught me well, also. The three celebrations of life are Bajamar Mexico, San Diego and her hometown Emmett ID (her husband)

  9. Diane Chamberlain on June 18, 2007 at 8:09 am

    Robin and Ed,
    How touched I am to read your comments this morning! My heart goes out to both of you. Robin, I know you and Michele were the best of friends. And Ed, I think you gave her the most joyous 15 years of her life. She was a true treasure who left an indelible mark on so many lives.

  10. Candace White on June 18, 2007 at 8:36 am

    Bueno!
    Ed sent your blog along to me and I am so appreciative. I am one of Michele’s friends/colleagues from the Russia group and live in Santa Barbara. We may have met at her home as I remember how several of you were at a 4th of July celebration.
    Thank you for knowing her so well and writing so descriptively about her so well. It is a blessings to be able to do our mourning and celebrating together and have the on line connection to help us.
    Love, Candace

  11. Diane Chamberlain on June 18, 2007 at 12:05 pm

    Candace, you’re so right. I lost a dear friend in the pre-Internet days and had no way to connect with other people who knew her. The Internet makes the world so much smaller.

  12. Arlene on June 18, 2007 at 12:21 pm

    Michele would have loved bringing us all together again.
    – Arlene

  13. Bill Schofield on June 18, 2007 at 12:26 pm

    Diane, thanks for providing this space. I only recently met Michelle. “Schofield Barracks,” (as we refer to our home since we moved to Florida) was one of the stops on Michelle and Bud’s recent trip east this past April. The visit was brief, but long enough to give Bobbie and I the sense that we had met someone very special. We appreciated her intelligence and great sense of humor and knew that Buddy (Ed) had made a great choice in a partner. We will miss knowing her better and envy those of you that did.
    Bill Schofield

  14. Martina on June 18, 2007 at 1:18 pm

    Dear Diane
    This is such a beautiful thing that you have done. We in Bajamar feel the loss of Michele daily. I had just talked with Michele the day before the accident. We had gotten together frequently over the years as she lost one friend after another, then her father and then so tragically her own daughter. We talked of death and she said many times she was not afraid of it for herself. She asked me to help her connect more deeply with her daughter. The suggestion that came was to light a candle daily and focus on the light with loving thoughts of Stasha. This would help bridge the preception of loss. She had done this for 7 days. The last day that we saw one another, I just reminded her again to “focus on the light.” I am certain that she did just that and now she is our guide in a very special way. We all love her so much and it is being returned through our open hearts. Martina

  15. Vikki Brown on June 18, 2007 at 1:19 pm

    Diane:
    I had the honor of meeting Michele in 1978 at William Woods College in Fulton Mo. She was one of the new “college living coordinators” and I was a confused 17 year-old freshman who had left home for the first time and really needed some guidance. Through the years Michele has always been there for me offering that guidance whether it was dealing with my family, my love life, my career or my cat. To say that there is a hole is my heart is an understatement but like you, once I heard about the plans to celebrate her life, I stopped dwelling on my pain and started remembering how incredible this woman was and how lucky I was to have had her in my life for the past 30 years.
    Vikki

  16. Marian Woodall on June 18, 2007 at 2:05 pm

    Just to let you all know that Michele had many many great years before these
    last 15 as well: She and I were friends for about 59 years, and our lives overlapped throughout (including high school and college, months in Bolivia, in Portland, OR and many other places.)
    Michele’s most frustrating trait was chronic tardiness, but her best trait was fun, so it turned out to be worth the wait. My favorite memory of tardiness was a time in the late 1960’s when we had scored some hard-to-get tickets to U of Idaho (our alma mater) and U of Washington football tickets. As a result of her endearing indecision about wardrobe, we missed the entire first half! But the second half more than made up for it. Love you and miss you, Michele!
    Your partner in mischief, Marian

  17. Nancy Alexander on June 18, 2007 at 9:00 pm

    Michele and I have been friends since second grade in Emmett, ID. She was a unique person with so many wonderful attributes that it is very hard to single out any one of them, but as I reflect over the past 60 years I can’t help but think of her intellect, talent, warmth, wittiness, strength, and beauty both inside and out. She never knew a stranger and always had a special way of making everyone feel important no matter who you were or what position you held in life.
    Some people make the world more special just by being in it and that is how I view my endearing thoughts of Michele. The beautiful gift of her long and lasting friendship and the wonderful memories of grade school, high school, and our adult years together will be my comfort for years to come. Friends do make the best presents yet! I will miss you my dear friend, Mike!
    Nancy Callender Alexander

  18. Marylee Donovan on June 18, 2007 at 9:50 pm

    I have only known Michele for a few years. but WOW, what a presence! There is no way that she can ever be forgotten. Michele was truly interested in the welfare and education of the families in our nearly communities in Mexico, which is why she fit so well into our Baja Scholarship Program. The picture that I hold most dear is one of Carla and Michele distributing food, clothing and toys at Christmastime. “Michele’s Pantry” will be our continued remembrance of her “big” heart.

  19. Diane Chamberlain on June 18, 2007 at 11:58 pm

    Thank you all for sharing these wonderful remembrances! I’m so pleased my blog is giving people space for your thoughts and memories, and it’s such a treat to read about Michele from so many different perspectives.

  20. Bev Scott on June 20, 2007 at 7:44 pm

    Thank you Diane for offering this site to honor Michele. I have loved reading all the tributes and loving memories. I have been a professional colleague and friend of Michele for many years. I have many fond memories of travel with her and with her business partner, Robin Reid—especially a trip to Spain with five of us in a car traveling everywhere. Michele was funny, easy to be with, caring,warm and lots of fun! I miss her!

  21. brenda on June 21, 2007 at 9:05 pm

    D
    I have lost very special friends including one of my very best in the world…it is not easy. I have stayed in touch by letter and then email with many friends. Right now, 4 of my friends from my graduating (High school) class have reconnected…it only took me 35 years to come HOME…

  22. Diane Chamberlain on June 21, 2007 at 9:54 pm

    Brenda, losing out friends really makes us realize how we need to hold onto those we have left, doesn’t it. Glad your old HS friends have reconnected.

  23. Herwald Morton on June 23, 2007 at 6:12 pm

    Hi Diane,
    My family, including two teenage sons, arrived in La Paz, Bolivia at about the same time as Michele in August, 1973. I was with the American Embassy and both of my sons were in Michele’s class at the American school during our two years there. In addition, it was such a small expatriate community that we all came to know each other very well socially Michele became a special friend and we have kept in touch over the years,
    She and Ed spent a couple of nights in Maryland with us on their last trip to the east coast and our sons, now approaching middle age, joined us as we sat out under the stars drinking wine and reminiscing about our lives. It was very poignant! Farewell to a good friend! Que este bien. Nos vemos enseguida.
    Hal & Chris Morton

  24. Loren Goeres on June 6, 2014 at 5:16 pm

    Hi Diane,
    I first met Michele in Fulton, MO in the mid 70s. She was by far the most exciting woman I had ever met. We stayed in touch over the years and I would get to see her every few years. I finally moved to San Diego and got to see much more of her. She and Ed were the only friends from the US who contacted me after I moved to Costa Rica. I still miss her. And my favorite stories are ones involving her (most can never be published).
    Loren Goeres

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