Dear Heather…

This is the kind of letter that I never thought I would write. I never thought, in a million years, that I would get a phone call telling me that you had passed away. How could I expect that phone call? You were healthy and young–you were a beast at Muay Thai. It’s almost impossible to believe that this isn’t just some sort of sick joke.

In the past week, I have just been overwhelmed with memories about our friendship. Remember how you used to do that Family Guy impression, and you would yell, “It’s gonna rain,” and then dissolve in hysterical giggles?

Remember how you came home one day and announced that you had just gotten a ride from the nicest stranger?

Remember how when you drove, you turned the music up so high that the people in the back seat of your car practically went deaf?

Remember how you and Sonja made me that certificate of achievement when I went on my first date with Danny?

Remember how we had that one soccer practice where we were practicing juggling, and you told everyone that you juggled over 100 times?

Or, do you remember how you called me, in tears, telling me that you weren’t going to be able to come to my wedding because your boss wouldn’t let you get out of your shift at Babies R Us? You rushed to the reception, and we shared a hug and a couple of words, and that was the last time I saw you in person.

When I think back over our friendship, I just feel such an overwhelming sense of gratitude to you. I know we talked about this, but my freshman year was so hard for me. But, you were part of that core group that got me through that horrible time. You reached out to me and invited me to dinner, you invited me into your home, and you listened to me, even when I was awkward or anxious. You told me that I was “hot stuff,” and you listened to me talk about all of the boys that I had a crush on. Did you know that you and Bethany were the first ones I told that I liked Danny? Isn’t it weird that you were there even before my relationship with him began?

If I could talk with you today, I would tell you that I am so incredibly proud of the woman you became after graduation. You lived so far away from home, and you kicked butt at grad school. You had so many adventures, and you accomplished so many of your dreams. You were so brave, and I am so proud of you.

And, if I could talk to you today, I would tell you that I am so sorry for not keeping in touch with you. I am the worst at friendships, and since graduation, I have been even worse. I am so wrapped up in my sadness and my problems that I burrow down deep and don’t reach out. I hope you knew that I loved you, and I treasured our time together. I hope you knew that all of those late night talks or soccer practices, or movie nights helped me grow into the woman that I am today. I hope you knew that you were important and that you touched so many lives.

Even though it’s hard to understand why your life was cut short, I rejoice knowing that you made use of every day that you had on Earth. You loved fiercely, you worked hard, and you lived passionately. You were a gem, and I am so glad that our paths crossed during college. I don’t know what my time would have been like if you were not in my life. Thank you for being my friend, Heather.

Here are some of my favorite pictures of us.

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Remember this picture? I remember that you were bugged that you could see the gum in your mouth. Don’t be look like such babies?

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Remember how Bethany, you, and I had all of those crazy photo shoots? How many did we have over those four years? I have to say that this one is probably my favorite, though. I love that we laid in my back yard and covered ourselves with leaves. We were so weird and joyful.

Even though this time is full of sadness, and I have cried many tears over the past week, I am so glad that I have years of memories with you to bring me joy. I love you, Heather, and I know we will be reunited again some day.

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