Friday, January 18, 2008
I still remember the first time I saw Heather. I couldn't have been more than 19 or 20, and I had just gone back to Gainesville to visit after I left the University of Florida. It had been for an SCA gathering of some kind, though I cannot remember what it was. I had been fighting, and feasting, and playing Boppe the HedgePygge. The revel, as I suppose it was, adjourned from the park to some one's house after dark. Excalibur was on the TV, and I was outside wrapped in a cloak and telling 'no shit, there we were' stories. I noticed a pretty young thing who looked vaguely familiar, though I was sure I'd never seen her before. Upon asking I found that she was the sister of a friend, thus the strange familiarity. I believe I had a bottle or two of liquid courage in me at this time, and I announced that I was going to make a move on her. I strode over, and offered her some warmth within my cloak. Much to my surprise she accepted and allowed me to wrap her within its folds. The night continued on, and we awoke the next morning in each others arms. Such nights were not uncommon in those days, and we parted with fondness, but no promises, since a few hundred miles separated us. We stayed in touch, sought each other out at events, and eventually she moved to South Florida. We had many good times. We saw Blue Oyster Cult in concert together; a first for both of us. She introduced me to my later-to-become sister Aislinn. She turned me on to the works of Roger Zelazny. And on the day I got chlorine in my eye while tending my parent's pool, she rushed me to the doctor, and then cared for me for the next cycloptic twenty-four hours. Unfortunately our relationship coincided with the brief time in my life when I was wanting to sow my wild oats, and as it became clearer she wanted more from me, I drew further and further away, and I fear I may have hurt her more than I knew.
Years passed. Word reached me through the grapevine that she had married, and was a mother. She even visited me with her two girls once, but as this was still pre-internet, and I am one of the worst letter writers in history we lost touch again.
Then, after a particularly vivid and seemingly random dream about her I called Aislinn to see if all was well. I was informed that Heather was diagnosed with breast cancer. I called her, and we rekindled our friendship. One day she had to go to a prominent cancer treatment center in Tampa, and she crashed at our place. Eventually it seemed that the disease went into remission. Her hair grew back, her spirits rose, and she became a fairly regular commenter here using the name Loki. The last time I saw her was last year at the Hoggetowne Medieval Faire in Gainesville. I had volunteered to armor up and let folks shoot padded arrows at me. She and her daughter inflicted more than a few bruises upon me, having an uncanny knack for finding those few square inches of unprotected flesh between my body and shoulder armor. She looked great, with all her hair back and a ready smile. It was a brief, but wonderful encounter. I never imagined that would be the last time I'd see her. We kept in touch via email and our respective blogs, and not too long ago the cancer came back with a vengeance in her brain, liver, and lungs. The chemo and radiation was harsher, and took a greater toll this time. She tried to keep her spirits up, and never once seemed to give up. Unfortunately her liver couldn't handle the stress, and earlier this week shut down. I spoke to her sister on Tuesday and was told the doctors gave her two to three weeks. Heather died peacefully in her sleep Thursday night surrounded by her family, and while there is something to be said for an end to her suffering, it is a tragedy when a vibrant, hyper-intelligent woman in her thirties is untimely ripped from this world.
The service will be held Monday afternoon.