My friend died today. I struggled with how to even phrase that. Died seems so insensitive, so calloused. Passed away seems like it was something peaceful, something relieving. And I don’t feel relieved, I feel heartbroken. Lost. Lost. Yes, that’s how I feel. I lost my friend. I know where she is, but I can’t get to her. 😢
I don’t really even know what to say, and am grasping for words, but I still feel compelled to write.
Heather is my first friend to die. The first friend I’ve lost. I’m a few months shy of 40 years old, and I’ve never had a close friend pass away. What is it going to be like to wake up each day and know that someone I love so dearly is no longer physically here? What will it feel like to send a text and get no reply? What will the world be like without Heather? Right now, it feels very…surreal.
As some of you may know, I wrote about Heather on the Huffington Post last year. Read that story to see what a truly amazing woman she was, and to hear the history of our friendship.
Heather was diagnosed with Stage 4 Metastatic Cancer in 2013, and was only given a few years to live. She lived the last four and a half years in complete class and gracefulness, soaking in every moment with all six of her kids and her husband.
Heather’s cancer reminds me how small I am. It reminds me that there are no guarantees. It reminds me that no matter how much I may feel I am in control, I actually have very little of it. It reminds me that the only thing I can control is how I respond to everything going on around me. And Heather was a beautiful picture of living with joy in the midst of great suffering.
Oh, Heather, I already miss you. I miss your voice, your smile, your laugh. I miss our funny texts and asking you to send me a photo of what you were doing right in a certain moment, and your willingness to oblige.
Here’s a pic from one day when I texted Heather “flowers” to let her know I was thinking about her:
I told her to text me a pic of what she was doing right then (as I often did), and she sent me this:
She was in New York at a production of the Lion King. 💗
I threw out my Christmas cards the day after Christmas last month. It was before we knew Heather was about to take a turn for the worse and that we would only have a few more weeks with her. I threw away her Christmas card, with her handwritten note, and now I can’t ever get it back. I feel a great sense of loss knowing I’ll never see her handwriting again. For now, I cling to a small string of texts I still have on my phone:
Heather’s death leaves a shadow in the corner of my heart. There’s a little piece missing, something that really can’t be filled in earthly ways. There’s no rhyme or reason to her death. It makes no sense that a mom of six, not much older than me, would be taken away from her family and friends. It’s just…unexplainable.
Heather, you were sunshine.
You were cool lemonade on a hot day.
You were happiness and joy and love and comfort and a warm blanket all wrapped in one.
You were raindrops on a tin roof.
You were the sound of a thousand frogs and crickets roaring on a summer night.
You were the crackle of a fire.
You still are. All of those things are what you’ve left in your wake.
Joy. Love. Refreshment. Sunshine. Rain. Sun. Fire.
It’s all you, and every time I experience any of it, I will think of you.
My simple words don’t do an entire lifetime justice. But every day I live, you will be living on through each of your kids, your husband, your friends, your family, and everyone who was lucky enough to say they knew you. Because your imprint was so deeply beyond yourself, it will never be forgotten.
I love you, friend. Until we meet again.
Your Running Chick Buddy,
If you feel compelled to help with Heather’s large medical expenses her family is left with, please donate HERE.