At TBF 2018, Beth gave us buttons with Stephanie’s smiling face. I keep my button on my bulletin board, at my eyeline, and I feel Stephanie and her wild and wonderful light with me. I felt her at TBF this past year too, saw her in the faces of the folks who came to the festival. Stephanie lives on in her kids, the thousands she touched and inspired over the years at TBF and at the library. She lives on in her wonderful friends who keep on keeping on with their beautiful work in the libraries and class rooms, and in Fred, who was so gracious and brave this past year at the festival, showing up with his golden light to keep Stephanie’s spirit with us. I miss her so much, but if I surrender to my memories of her, I hear her laughter. Those crazy gifts she used to pick out for us—each one was so thoughtful, and a bit of a gag. This past year, Stephanie was gone for two months by the time I opened up my gift bag. Beth said one of the last things Stephanie had done was to be sure she’d gotten all of us gifts. She knew I love dogs and got me a mug that said: DOG HAIR: NOT JUST AN ACCESSORY, BUT ALSO A CONDIMENT. Stephanie, I love you.
I struggle immensely to find the words to describe my dear friend Stephanie. She had an intense passion that could not be contained. The reason everything Stephanie touched was so successful is due to her innate ability to make each person from teen to author to vendor to volunteer -- to friend -- feel so valued and special. She was the queen of chocolates and chicken-scratched handwritten notes; she schooled us all on how to fold a brochure; she shopped for the perfect gift for every author, every person; she had a wickedly funny sense of humor; and her personality was as vibrant as her curly red hair. I miss her all the time.
I first met Stephanie at ALA when I was a brand-new author. I didn't know anyone in the world of YA literature, but Stephanie made me feel welcome and valued and supported in ways few others have. The two times I've been a guest at TBF have been high points of my career, because of the incredible amount of time and care and love that Stephanie put into it. Stephanie was bright, funny, and generous, and she could make things happen in ways that still blow my mind. I miss her.