Memorial Day, 2014: Never Forgotten. With Doug and Donita Smith. Donita was my favorite cousin and my best friend all through my childhood. Her husband Doug Smith was my best friend all through high school.
On this day, May 25th, 2013 around 8:15 am, I received the news from my sister Karen that they perished in a house fire. I was on the road when I received the call on my cell phone, and when I hung up the two of them burst into my car with an overpowering smell and a cloud of panic. Donita screamed in my ear that they were dead, and I felt a hand on my shoulder and Doug talking quietly in my ear, "Calm down. Pam will know what to do."

We used to go ghosthunting together back in Muhlenberg County, Western Kentucky, where we grew up. They always insisted on dragging me along because I was the one who could see and hear ghosts, so it just figured that I would be the one to come to in the event of something like this.

They came to visit me that day, to tell me of things left unsaid and undone, and to leave a message with their children. I delivered their message, and I see four years later that it worked. I would later memorialize the two of them in A Deviant Mind #15.

Doug and Donita are still with me in a lot of ways. I'm lonely without 'em. I miss their crazy humor, their unconditional love, their sense of fun and adventure, and our mutual love of The Beatles. We played "Here Comes The Sun" at our wedding instead of the wedding march, and I know they approved. When Doug and I created A Deviant Mind back in 1980, we named it Guardians of the Galaxy...and we were immediately pissed to learn that Marvel Comics had beaten us to the title.

In 2010 I created A Deviant Mind in its current incarnation, and on May 22, 2013 I'd called Donita to tell her I was getting ready to ship out the first fourteen issues for her and Doug to read. She said that was awesome, and he'd be thrilled to see that I'd revived the series and to see what I'd written so far. Three days later, before I could get the books into the mail, I learned that they were gone, in what would be the most grief-filled, surreal, weirdest days of my life. Doug and Donita followed me home after I ran those errands because they had a lot they wanted to say to me, and they knew how to make absolutely sure I knew I wasn't hallucinating. I had no choice but to pull out a bottle of wine and a glass, pour a drink....and sit and listen. We talked and grieved all afternoon.

Today I feel them near me again. We're going to pour a glass and write some stories together today...for old time's sake.

I love you guys. And I always will. Never Forgotten.

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