I can’t stop thinking about screaming to the universe to give her back.
I told my best friend everything I needed on 7 October 2020. I realized as I was speaking that I’d told her everything before, when she could speak. I was so thankful in the moment. Heather was no longer able to speak or swallow solids. On the 10th of October, on her husband’s birthday, she passed away.
Heather Stoker was the person who challenged me to do and be better—be a better mom, a better wife, a better supervisor and leader. She has become the yardstick from which I judge my behavior. I judge the behavior of others on whether they create a safe, supportive environment or a caustic, hostile one that I still believe delayed her diagnosis of stage IV colon cancer. She was only 42. She had 3 extraordinary children. She was too young to leave this Earth.
And we need her, the empathy she felt for people, the passion she felt for doing the right thing. The support she was willing to provide for others to do what is right by humanity—not a party, nation, or religion, what was fundamentally right for each human being.
I desperately miss our chats… conversations over IM or text as we mothered our children or spent time with our husbands. We knew each other’s priorities and family was always first. The energy she put into her family was so selfless, so pure, I’ve never seen that level of devotion to others before.
The hole she has left behind fills and empties. It’s unstable. I cry quickly at the thought of something she did. Some unexplainable act of love for others that required her to pull together so much finite, limited energy to execute. Some days I’m filled with the “Thank God I had her as a friend.” Other days I am so angry that someone so caring was taken far too early. The ebb and flow… I’m emotionally exhausted.
I don’t think I’ll ever find another friend like her. A friendship, a sisterhood, so open and raw that my authentic self felt safe to learn and be guided by her. No. She was a clear, colorless Diamond among a world of so many people filled with vile inclusions that I can’t see beyond.
So many of our conversations were written so we could answer each other after addressing our family first that the only way I know can process the emptiness is here, writing about her, writing to her.
So if you are here reading, stop now and go to “The North Sea of My Mind” to understand the pain I feel.
Heather, my friend and chosen sister, I miss you so much. I love you, my friend. Forever.