POUND RIDGE, N.Y. – Ward Pound Ridge Reservation was a favorite place for Deborah Healy-Seidlitz, a place where she could often be seen walking the family dog, Remy.
On Wednesday morning, under leaden skies, more than 300 friends and family members crammed into the Meadows picnic area of the reservation to remember the 49-year-old Pound Ridge woman, who once described herself as a “perpetual student of life.”
Healy-Seidlitz, a licensed massage therapist and mother of two, was killed Friday evening when she was struck by a car in front of Truck restaurant on Old Post Road in Bedford.
She was known for her deep love of nature and gardening, one of the reasons family members chose Ward Pound Ridge for the site of the memorial.
“There are no words that describe the depth of our pain and shock,” Celebration of Life officiant Elizabeth Phaire told the crowd. “But [Healy-Seidlitz] lived a full and rich 49 years and made extraordinary contributions to the world.”
Phaire explained how Healy-Seidlitz often burned white sage – an herb used by Native Americans during purification ceremonies – during her massage sessions.
“We’ll make an offering of white sage today and burn it in gratitude of her life,” Phaire said, as she lit the herb and waved the smoke into the crowd.
Healy-Sedilitz’s husband, Richard Sedlitz, told the gathering his wife’s enormous spirit is what will enable him and their children to carry on without her.
“While there can be no reason for such a senseless tragedy ... it is also a time for joyfulness,” he said. “Joyfulness in the knowledge that we have all been touched by an angel – by someone who was so possessed by pure goodness and love. Joyfulness in the comforting knowledge that although Deb left us physically, she will always be with us in our hearts.
[We] will find a way to move forward, as that is what defines the human spirit,” he added. “We will need to come together to help ourselves heal and pick up many of the things that Deb did for us on a daily basis.”
Healy-Seidlitz’s son, Andrew, told the crowd that his mother’s passing changed what he thought of as his favorite possession.
“To me she was the best mom in the world,” he said. “She would always have something special for me after school and always had a shoulder to cry on. She was a great artist. My favorite possession used to be my computer, but now it’s a prized painting she did of my favorite stuffed animal.”
Hannah Seidlitz, Healy-Seidlitz’s daughter, performed an a cappella version of Coldplay’s “Fix You,” which features the lyrics, “And the tears come streaming down your face/When you lose something you can’t replace/When you love something but it goes to waste/Could it be worse?”
Doris Seidlitz, Healy-Seidlitz’s mother-in-law, recalled how their relationship got off to a rocky start but eventually they became best friends.
“A mother-in-law and daughter-in-law relationship is fraught with problems,” she said. “But things between us changed, and we developed a deep respect that turned into a love that makes her death almost unbearable. Her legacy is to make all of us promise to be a little bit better.”
“Her death may have been tragic, but nothing about her life was tragic,” said her brother-in-law David Alpern. “It was a life well-lived.”