In our lives, we only get to have a few people who touch us at the very core of our being in such a way as to impact how we think about who we are, a person who permanently influences how we go about living our lives. Hell, we’re lucky if we get to have even a few.
For me, Heather Hughes was one of those few. Bafflingly and sadly, she died yesterday morning after a fairly short-lived fight with lung cancer. Today would have been her 45th birthday, but her body didn’t make it. She smoked for a solid 30 years. She knew the risks, but she liked to smoke. But for the rest of us, we feel gypped. Selfishly, I feel it’s not fair that she left this earth so soon, depriving us of the dazzling, sexy, witty beam of light that she has always been in our hearts and minds.
So to you sweet pea, I started writing this letter last night, my head burning, my heart heavy, my sense of what is right in this world turned upside-down.
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Hi Heather –
I just got home a little bit ago after visiting with an awesome group of your friends, all of us feeling lost in the disruption of “normalcy,” whatever that is, because you were gone from our lives. You were the one that brought us all together because you were somebody that provided us such a unique sense of what we could be; who we could be, but the lung cancer that took away your body has left us feeling empty in your absence. I am glad that we were able to celebrate your radiance in life in coming together tonight.
But still, I hate it. I hate every cigarette that you smoked for those three decades, even though I doubt there was ever a woman who could make a cigarette look as good as you could. I hate the cancer that took you away from us. I hate that I will never get to talk to you again. I hate that I will never see that fantastic sparkle in your eyes and I hate that I will never hear that laugh that could effectively light up any room and render every worry I’ve ever had inconsequential.
You are special in a way that very few I’ve ever known are. “One of a kind” doesn’t really do justice, and I feel pretty confident that I can speak for the great majority of the people whose lives you’ve touched…and they are legion! This gathering tonight was a testament to your awesome talent, your sexy magnetism, your confidence, your wit and your spirit.
You and I met a long time ago. I can’t even remember when it was. I am one of the lucky boys who got to know you more intimately, and as short lived as it was, I am only now realizing how much you affected me. We barely lasted half a year—and that was 17 years ago—and yet your passing has rocked me to my core in a way that I never would have imagined was possible. You made some things count in ways that I measure other things against. We could go years without talking, but knowing that you are there, just a phone call away would be enough. I guess I never stopped loving you. You were one of those rare few that left in a little piece of a hook…one that will be embedded forever.
I am sad that you aren’t a phone call away any more. I am so very sad. I know that you are in another place, and I am happy that you are no longer suffering, but it’s days like these when I cannot help but feel that all this is just so random, because if it weren’t, we could call you and visit you, and you would invariably make our world a better place.
I will always hold a deep love for you and will miss you until the day I leave this earth. Thanks for having been a part of my life. You are someone genuinely special and unique, and for that I am grateful. You will live on and burn brightly in all of our hearts. You rule Heather. I owe you a drink.