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In memory of Debbie Alvarez, The Styling Librarian

(Edited July 17, 2017: I have removed the links to her blog since it looks as if someone else has bought the domain and is using it for advertising. 🙁 )

Deeply saddened to hear that teacher/librarian Debbie Alvarez has died. Though we never had the chance to hang out in person, Debbie and I have emailed each other as well chatting on social media. She has been so generous in her support of me and my work on her blog, including a post just last week. 

Like many others, I’m a fan of her blog, The Styling Librarian:

I love the tagline in the top right corner: “In my opinion, books are the best accessory.”

The portrait in the top left corner was done by me. While Debbie was interviewing me for her blog early last year, I discovered that she was just about to have a surgery (she didn’t say what it was for), so I asked for her address so I could send her something to help cheer her up while she was recovering. She was hesitant, saying that it was sweet of me to offer but that shipping to Hong Kong was crazy expensive, and that my found object art posts already brightened up her days. I insisted, and here’s what she wrote about it (link removed)

Photo: BENJAMIN BRINK/The Oregonian

Debbie never mentioned the word “cancer” in any of our emails; I only found out when I followed one of her post links to her personal blog, and then scrolled back to older entries. And then I felt like an idiot, because I remember telling Debbie about having a cold bug in the household when she first approached me about doing an interview. I was complaining about a cold and there Debbie was, about to head into cancer-related surgery.

Sometimes the lack of comments on my own blog made me wonder how many people actually read it, but Debbie encouraged me: “So excited, just love how you share thoughts with others, your enthusiasm got me to finally pick up a pen and become persistent with my own writing and join SCBWI here in Hong Kong.” 

Despite what she was going through, Debbie continued to support others, post on her blog about the love of reading, and embrace life as fully as possible. Debbie Alvarez was an inspiration to me, and the world is a lesser place without her.

The illustration above is dedicated to Debbie, who told me she loved how I could find beauty in the ordinary. In the background: a photo I took in a drive-through car wash. 

In the foreground: Debbie Alvarez, who was anything but ordinary.