An Unfortunate Goodbye

Saturday, 15 November 2014

I think I’ve always had this sort of semi-acceptance of death. I don’t tend to be the crier in the room, as long as I can see each situation as a passing after a well lived life. Mind you, I’ve only ever been to three funerals/wakes in my life that I can remember.

The first was when a childhood friend’s father passed away when I was maybe seven years old. I vaguely recollect walking in to the room and seeing the casket, but I don’t believe I knew or fully comprehended death at that time. Now growing up I had many pets which equates to many pet funerals – those I remember, so I must have had at least a basic understanding.

My grandfather passed away when I was nine, but he lived in NY and I was in Florida. This death I understood and was surely impactful, yet still I believe I rode the fine line of not fully understanding/not fully knowing to what extent sadness should exist or longer.

Then my grandmother passed away when I was twenty-two years old. Between those years, I only experienced animal passings. This loss was greater to me because I saw and experienced and felt the process of death. As I sat by my grandmothers bedside with my dad and many aunts and uncles, I accepted that it was her time to move on. I saw in that very room the beauty she had created and the blessings she was leaving behind. It was time for her to join Rafa because like he said, “finally, it is a matter of love.” I loved my grandmother and wouldn’t have wished for an end, yet I found my acceptance in knowing that her life was incredibly well lived.

One month later, my great grandmother (on the other side of the family) passed away. Vovo was something else, at 102 years old she would have me bring my laptop over to show her photos of what I’ve been up to. She knew more about what was going on with everyone than anyone else in the family – and I say this with emphasis on the everyone because she created an empire. I cherish the fond memories I have in Vovo’s apartment growing up with all my many aunts and uncles and cousins and second cousins and all those other distant lineage paths that I can’t quite definite yet I know I’m related to. Though I unfortunately was unable to attend this funeral, this loss too was something I felt more able to accept because I knew her life was incredible; I knew she lived.

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The third funeral/wake I attended was for the friend of my high school best friend’s mother. I went to support those I cared deeply for, and I watched people around me with tear filled eyes.

It’s a funny emotion that most experience after a loss – that empty sadness that really does not ultimately do anything physically to make a situation better. Tears offer comfort but they cannot change the outcome. I don’t know how or why I developed a slightly detached perspective on death… Maybe it is because I have experienced so few in my life, and because those few were substantially lived lives. Who knows.

One thing I do know is that never in my life have I felt so devastated as to the loss I experienced today. Today one of my best friends passed away. She was a friend, a sister, a mentor, a source of encouragement, a role model, an absolutely all around amazing person both inside and out. Heidi left a mark on me, among many others, that will remain forever. Twenty nine years old with dreams and ambitions and dedication and heart and passion and drive. She was incredible.

I remember the first time I met Heidi. I was new to rock climbing and had seen her the few times I’d gone. She was hard to miss as her passion for everything was so blatant and her grace on the walls was something to admire. I’m not sure if she offered pointers as she saw me struggle on a climb, or if we simply exchanged hellos as we climbed near one another but it was her genuine personality that I instantly clung to and we became friends instantly. Heidi was a phenomenal climber and had been for years and years beginning in her hometown of Patagonia. Despite my new basic level abilities, she would always offer to climb together – granted she would do tough routes I still am unable to complete, she never made me feel insecure she would just give me tips or cheer me on.

Looking back on these past few short years of knowing Heidi, I will forever cherish our memories because each moment spent with her was valuable, productive, and truly unforgettable. I could go on and on with my stories and memories, and for that I am grateful. I am so grateful to have had her in my life and so lucky to have been a part of hers.

To leave this world at such a young age and with such incredible potential for a long, successful life is an honest tragedy. In my few experiences, I can’t say that I’ve ever been as emotional over death as I am in this moment. But Heidi lived. She loved travel and education and family and friends and laughing and helping people and exploring and daring. She accomplished great things and strived to do so much more.

Tears to me seem silly sometimes. I am only seldom a crier, yet for Heidi I can’t seem to stop. I know I share this emotion with an amazing amount of people because I know she touched a lot of lives beyond my own. Today was a breathtakingly beautiful late fall day and Heidi went climbing like she does nearly every single weekend, but today Heidi didn’t come home. She left us all doing what she loved most.

Heidi, a part of me is gone with you. I will forever cherish the bond we shared, the stories we told, the unproductive climb time gabbing we did, the photos we exchanged, and the friendship and sisterhood you gave to me with that big smile on your face. I love you and miss you tons already, but I know you’ll always be smiling down. RIP Heidi ❤

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