[Editor's Note: Stephanie Anne Smith, Class of 1987, died of colon cancer on
October 4, 2006. Her classmate, Jason Broome, sent us this heartfelt memoir.]
Stephanie Smith lived down the street from me in high school. I used to sneak down to her place on school nights to escape my confines and to "study." "Studying" was an innocent and nefarious mix of gossip, smoking cigarettes and listening to Billy Ocean (blame Steph) or Bob Marley. We were 16, full of questions, curiosities and crushes. Sounds like a normal American childhood right? Well, except for the fact that the neighborhood was the Vasant Vihar section of New Delhi, India; and our classmates were kids from 60 other countries. When we took a weekend trip, it was to the biggest gathering of camels in the world or the Taj Mahal. And we never knew how long it would be before we got on a plane to our new hometown. It was a strange way to grow up. The reminder of the constant brevity of our reality combined with the beauty and wonder (and adolescent frustrations) of living in a foreign land. Is this why we all became so close? Why we developed that special bond? Why we can reconnect in seconds after 15 years of not communicating?
We only knew each other for two or three years. Nothing is definitive, but I know that the time I spent in India and the friends I made were some of the most meaningful of my life. We were just normal kids doing normal kid things. But we did them in India. The land of languages and smells and colors and scenes that few can imagine. And we did them together.
I got to do them with Stephanie Smith. Cool as a cucumber. Never once was Stephanie fazed by anything. She carried herself with a wry spunk, a playful and all knowing grin, daring, intelligent, athletic, funny and one of my best friends in a time and place that only we can know. I don't have to explain it to you, because you were all there. Maybe not then and maybe you didn't know Stephanie. But you know. And yes, the feelings we experienced might be the same ones that most kids go through. But we had them in our insular world of AES in the deep heart of India. And for me, that is what is meaningful and special. It is in my heart when I wake up and everywhere my boots take me. And it is something innate in the swagger of any foreign service brat you meet. As one who took all the moving and the new kid in town thing pretty hard, our parents should know that we wouldn't trade all of the transplanting for the little league existence we may have craved back then.
I was lucky enough to share the most formative years of my foreign service dependency with Stephanie. She is one of the true greats with the kind of heart that make memories. I miss her dearly. It is a hard thing to bury someone so young and beautiful. I know that I had some of her best years; and in India, she gave us a lifetime. A great discovery of world's beauty and maladies mixed with personal quests of the soul. From the beaches of Kerala to the mountains of Kashmir we found ourselves in each other. And for that, I will be forever grateful. And I know Stephanie felt the same way. She will always be in our hearts.
E. Jason Broome
Class of 1987
Obituary by The Daily Press