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Meg White—1960 to 2012


The Iowa Source: "Meg White lives in Iowa City with her fish, Gills, and a hearty collection of cookbooks, poems, and biographies. The daughter of a reluctant debutante, Meg is descended from a long line of strong, irreverent Southern women who firmly believe in not taking themselves too darn seriously."

A short bio from

List of miscellaneous writing in The Iowa Source

List of Meg Does Manners columns from The Iowa Source

Meg White—Interviews, etc.

Meg Does Blogs

Please submit tributes, memories, and images to Mitchell-Wiedefeld Funeral Home tributes page.


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When you lose someone you love,
Your life becomes strange,
The ground beneath you becomes fragile,
Your thoughts make your eyes unsure;
And some dead echo drags your voice down
Where words have no confidence
Your heart has grown heavy with loss;
And though this loss has wounded others too,
No one knows what has been taken from you
When the silence of absence deepens.

Flickers of guilt kindle regret
For all that was left unsaid or undone...

It becomes hard to trust yourself.
All you can depend on now is that
Sorrow will remain faithful to itself.
More than you, it knows its way
And will find the right time
To pull and pull the rope of grief
Until that coiled hill of tears
Has reduced to its last drop.

Gradually, you will learn acquaintance
With the invisible form of your departed;
And when the work of grief is done,
The wound of loss will heal
And you will have learned
To wean your eyes
From that gap in the air
And be able to enter the hearth
In your soul where your loved one
Has awaited your return
All the time.

—John O'Donohue


Perfection Wasted by John Updike

And another regrettable thing about death
is the ceasing of your own brand of magic,
which took a whole life to develop and market
the quips, the witticisms, the slant
adjusted to a few, those loved ones nearest
the lip of the stage, their soft faces blanched
in the footlight glow, their laughter close to tears,
their tears confused with their diamond earrings,
their warm pooled breath in and out with your heartbeat,
their response and your performance twinned.
The jokes over the phone. The memories packed
in the rapid-access file. The whole act.
Who will do it again? That's it: no one;
imitators and descendants aren't the same.



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"The Meg White Experience": Laughter, compassion and "give 'em hell" activism

by Andy Douglas

Iowa City Press Citizen June 13, 2012—Opinion page

My friend Meg White used to like to play Lucinda Williams' "Sweet Old World," a song sung to someone who has committed suicide, over and over on her stereo "See what you lost when you left this world, this sweet old world."

Meg loved a sad country song.

Devastatingly, Meg opted to leave this sweet old world herself, a few weeks ago. Sometimes people don't know how much they're cared for. It takes a tragedy for the scope of that care to become apparent. And then it may be too late.

In the end, it was the grip of a disease called depression that closed around her. I imagine she felt alone, and, overwhelmed by health problems, opted to end her pain.

Such a death seems incomprehensible. We ask, what more could I have done? Why didn't I stay in touch more? How is it that people slip through the cracks?

Raging and ruminating, obsessing over the things she lost, the things we won't be able to share with her now, I'm thinking, too, about the ways she touched people. Her lyrical, perceptive poetry. Her passionate love of music and art. Her give-'em-hell, Mother Jones-style activism. Her strong compassion. Her laughter.

Friends have been coming forward, sharing stories, anecdotes. Memories bubble up.

Like the time she walked into the animal shelter and saw a young black Lab climbing to the top of a 10-foot fence and, admiring his spunk, said, "That's the dog for me." Or the evening of music and readings she hosted a few years ago in the space above the Deadwood, jokingly dubbed "The Meg White Experience." Her wit on her Facebook page, like the caption she posted to the photo of a cool undersea house: "Finally got the bedroom renovations done." Or her extraordinary gifts in the kitchen.

Many people are surprised to learn that Meg started the Agape Café. She was working for the Episcopal chaplaincy at Old Brick and had the idea to offer breakfast to homeless people in an elegant setting extending dignity to those who often don't get much respect. It was a profound idea, and the Agape Café continues until today.

Or they don't know that she served as campaign manager for the successful city council run of Bruno Piggott, back when Iowa City had a progressive tilt on the council.

Meg's depression goes back a few years, and on occasion, she was hospitalized for it. A debilitating back injury complicated things, and unfortunately, for a while, she became addicted to pain meds. But, sign of her fighting spirit, she kicked it and had been clean ever since. Still, she often was in pain.

Depression seems complicated: a despairing bleakness that grips the soul, a one-day-at-a-time, barely maintaining kind of thing.

But it's the most common mental health disorder. Close to 19 million American adults suffer from a depressive illness in any given year, and the risk of suicide in people with major depression is about 20 times that of the general population. Most suicidal people want to live; they're just unable to see alternatives to their problems.

We carry on. I'll miss Meg, and the tenuous briefness of our time here driven home again I'll be trying harder to let other friends know how much they mean to me. Toward the end, Meg may have felt she didn't have much of a voice. So I'll let her have the last, compassionate, word, with a message she posted on Facebook some time back:

"We have no way of knowing what demons people face, or how they fare against them. So love them."


Special thanks to Garry Klein and Andy Douglas


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