The avoidable and useless death of Debbie Hunter

Copyright Imagea Vankleek Hill tragedy

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A friend of mine… maybe an acquaintance I respected and felt great pity for, died today just days after being admitted to the hospital in Alexandria. From tuberculosis. Tuberculosis. She was 41-years old, or very close to it. I know that because we were almost always in the same grade.

Debbie Hunter was the most bullied and belittled person I’ve ever known. And I’ve known quite a few. Debbie had a severe form of epilepsy, it caused her to black out for anywhere from ten seconds to a few minutes. During these blackouts she would rock back and forth and make a low moaning sound.

When the blackout ended it always took a few moments to re-orientate herself. So, of course, the giant fucktards in our high school English class would laugh themselves silly, and mimic the moaning sound and rock back and forth in their desks.

Eventually, I think it was in grade eleven, she had brain surgery that took away most of the seizures, and some of the teasing. But she spent most, if not all, of high school isolated from everyone around her.

All of that bullshit left her a prime target for the users in Vankleek Hill. A few years ago, when I ran into her for the first time since high school, we sat on a bench on Main Street and caught up. As I was getting ready to leave she grabbed my sleeve and told me she was being abused.

She told me the only man she could find to love her was someone almost thirty years older than her, and he wasn’t kind. She had no friends, no one to turn to.

I said a few things to him… like “hi, Debbie is a good friend of mine. If anyone were to hurt her I would be very angry”. It was all I could do at the time. Debbie thanked me. But it was something I should have said twenty-five years ago.

There were other health issues, both mental and physical, but today she died from the tuberculosis that her ‘boyfriend’ gave her.

She deserved so much better than what was thrust upon her.

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UPDATE: They released Debbie’s “boyfriend” from the hospital on condition he “stay out of crowds”. I spoke to him today and he says there won’t be a diagnosis for whatever he has until Wednesday at the earliest. Debbie, he said, died from a blood clot, possibly related to diabetes, although her tests haven’t come back either.

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About Gabriel

I’ve lived in fifty-two places. I've been paid to pick stones out of fields, take backstage photos of Britney Spears, and report on Internet privacy issues. My photos have been published in several newspapers, and a couple of magazines.
This entry was posted in Vankleek Hill, Vankleek Hill History and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The avoidable and useless death of Debbie Hunter

  1. Beijing York says:

    This post made me cry. Your title caught my attention on Progressive Bloggers.

    I am terribly sorry for your loss. Debbie deserved far better and you tried to help her get there.

  2. Sharon Veldstra says:

    Oh Gabe, This is so sad. I never knew Debbie well. I only had her in one class, either grade eleven or twelve english. She worked with me on a group seminar once. I never knew that she had epilepsy, I always assumed that it was an anxiety response when she would start rocking. Thank you Gabe for letting me know about her passing, what a waste. And thank you for being there for her, more of us should have been.

  3. This was an extremely moving post. I recently recounted some of our childhood memories of being bullied, but our endings were much happier. Heartbroken for your loss. She must have seen something in you she knew you were brave and you cared. Okay to repost?

  4. Samantha says:

    Hi, I’ve only just seen this article but I knew Debbie really well. I was a waitress at Lavoies and she came in fairly often. I’m sorry to say her boyfriend was my great uncle through marriage and I can’t agree more with what you said about him. He abused my aunt throughout their marriage and she couldn’t be happier now that he’s out of her life. Its very unfortunate that Debbie died. I have to admit always found her sort of strange, pitiable even. Perhaps she was a different person when Barney wasn’t around. Either way, I felt sorry for her and went out of my way to be kind to her when she came in. I moved to England 2 years ago and I didn’t have any idea that she had passed. My condolences to you for losing a friend.

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