We lost Liz last Thursday night.
A lot of us are still broken up—if you knew her, if she was part of your life, there is a void now that is hard to fathom.
She died at UNC Memorial Hospital after a month in and out of the ICU. It was a sudden sickness that laid her low. She rallied for a while and was able to be with her family and the procession of people who loved her. We rubbed her feet, held her hands, told her sweet things. As it did throughout her life, music lifted her spirit. People came and played at her bedside. Her daughter, Jennifer, whose music career made Liz so proud, kept a vigil with her violin. It was very beautiful and very sad.
Elizabeth Curtis-Holm had an enormous capacity for caring. It was an active kind of caring. She did not practice compassion from the sidelines: She got into it, asked after people, offered counsel, gave a lot of love.
Even if you didn't know her, you've likely experienced some of that love. Liz was passionate about her work in design, which included nearly a decade here at the INDY and five years at The Carrboro Citizen. At both papers and through her work in advertisements for the Cat's Cradle, she set a high standard and won dozens of awards. She was exacting, probably a genius. She was also extremely open about sharing her knowledge—a mentor, she taught artists in our community how to use technology to get their work seen by more people.
Those of us who worked with her will never forget her absolute stands on behalf of making something readable and the importance of white space. We'll also never forget the woman who came to work in whatever wild array of colors the day required, a laptop under one arm and a little white dog under the other.
I worked with Liz at both the INDY and the Citizen. We put out about 500 weekly newspapers together. Nearly every page of those papers passed through Liz's hands. She made them better.
For a while, Liz and I shared a tiny office together, cranking out newspapers. Her dog slept in a bed on the corner of the desk, and Liz played DJ.
We got to be close in that little room: I saw her lose a brother and struggle with aging parents. I remember when she hung up the phone and said, "My daughter is going to play at Carnegie Hall." Most of all, I got to see Liz, the mom, the friend and the mentor in action. She held so many worlds together and cared about so many people. And now she's gone.
One friend found an old email from Liz, written around this time of the year. She'd asked Liz how she planned to spend the fall equinox. The reply read:
Peace and quiet and sunshine
a gentle breeze
a little wind chime.
That sounds about right.
Kirk Ross was managing editor of the INDY 2003–2006 and continues to contribute to the paper. He is the founder and editor of carolinamercury.com. Liz Holm was a designer and art director at the INDY 1997–2006. A celebration of her life will be held at the Haw River Ballroom Sunday, Oct. 6.
Correction: Oct. 6 is a Sunday (not Saturday).