It isn’t easy to say goodbye to a close friend, but many of us had to do that this past August when the vibrant and cheerfully good-natured Elizabeth Fixmer lost her long battle with illness.
I won’t go into all the worthwhile things Elizabeth did with her life—the therapy she engaged in with children and families as a social worker and psychotherapist, the volunteer work she did through her church, the close connections she maintained with her wonderful, large family. Instead, I’m sure Elizabeth would appreciate being remembered as a children’s writer first and foremost.
Elizabeth graduated with the first class of the then brand-new MFAC program at Hamline University. Her creative thesis became her first published novel, Saint Training (Zondervan, 2010). She immediately began work on her second novel, Down the Mountain (Whitman, 2015). She had nearly finished her third novel when illness took her on August 12, 2017.
Right up until the end, Elizabeth worried about that almost-finished novel. Even though her health had declined, she continued writing and revising. One of the last things she said to her critique group, of which I’m a member, was that she wanted her book to be finished and make it into the world. That book was her baby, and she wanted it to have a solid start in the world to help the young adults who would read it. Her commitment to her readers shone brightly until close to her death; her last school visit was in May of 2017, via Skype, from a nursing facility.
I’m so glad Elizabeth turned to writing in the second half of her life. For one thing, it brought me a dear, close friend. It gave me and the other members of her critique group the benefit of her insights into children and young adults. It gave the world at least two wonderful novels that were filled with humor and heart—perfect reflections of the generous person who was Elizabeth Fixmer.
She planned her own funeral. The song for the recessional reflects the hope and love and generosity Elizabeth maintained throughout her life:
What’s so amazing that keeps us stargazing
and what do we think we might see?
Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection.
The lovers, the dreamers and me.
To read Elizabeth’s obituary, visit http://www.nitardyfuneralhome.com/obituaries/Elizabeth-Fixmer/#!/Obituary
Georgia Beaverson is a graduate of the Hamline MFAC program. She runs a freelance writing/editing business called GeorgiaInk. Delacorte Press published her middle-grade novel, The Hidden Arrow of Maether, in late 2000.
Thank you, Georgia. Elizabeth was in my critique group and I adored her from day one. You are lucky to have known her so well; she is lucky you did.
Thank you for honoring Elizabeth in this heartfelt post, Georgia. She was such an amazing presence when she was here at the program and we were all so proud that her first novel was her creative thesis in the program. I know you, Jamie and Ann will miss her so.