For my dear friend, Heather Renee (Meade) Adams
So many feelings swirling around in my heart since April 25th. And in this space for remembering, I share with you this story of friendship deeply woven into the fabric of who I am. I could not possibly recount my life's story without these memories of such an amazing friend.
|Heather and me, frolicking on Clearwater Beach, circa 1977|
|Luke, me in the aforementioned dress, and Suze...|
We were long-distance friends until December of 1989, when my family moved from Ohio to Florida with glad tidings of great joy! I remember sitting in my 8th grade shop class in Ohio and Mr. Nickley telling me he hoped I'd be very happy in my new home, and Tommy Decker laughing from across the room, "Of course she'll be happy. She'll be in Florida! It's paradise!". We were excited not only to live in the sunshine state, but to live just minutes from our friends. I remember it snowing there not long after we moved and everyone joking that we could have left the snow in Ohio, thankyouverymuch. But Heather would've never considered squandering an opportunity for a good time, so we raided our hall closet for winter wear, and headed out.
I remember trying to make snowballs and snowmen from these whispers of snow and loads of hysterical laughter and me thinking that this move to Florida was going to work out just fine. Heather was larger than life...we were completely opposite in almost every way...she was brave and bold, southern and fashionable, adventurous and over-the-top in the very best way. She took one look at my hippie hair and Vision Street Wear shoes and said, "Oh, no, honey, this just won't do!" She fixed my eyebrows, put highlights in my hair, decked me out in head-to-toe Z. Cavaricci, and then sat back to admire her work.
The very best friends don't just try to change you for changing's sake, they intuitively find ways to grant your secret wishes. They seek out your hidden possibilities; read between the lines of who you say you are and find who you really want to be. They help you become your best and truest self.
I wish everyone had a Heather.
Such a true artist. The kind of artist who sees beauty in everything and leaves trails of brilliant color everywhere she walks; she opened my eyes to new worlds and experiences. I remember telling her that I'd entered myself in a pageant. That I thought I'd made a huge mistake and should probably back out. That I was mostly terrified and slightly paralyzed with fear and I remember her telling me not to worry about a thing. She'd do my hair and make-up and we'd rock it. And somehow I believed her.
She believed that I could be confident, strong, and sure. She helped me believe in me.
She believed in me so much that she chose me to be her entry into her cosmetology school's hair competition. I remember saying, "Heather! You have chosen the shyest, least likely candidate you know for this job!" And she just laughed and said it'd be perfect. That night I remember her squaring my shoulders and looking me straight in the eye. "You have got to go out there and work it. I mean werk it. If you don't believe this, nobody else will." This was a particularly tall request as she had used egg-whites and a balloon to achieve my fierce look.
But I took her words straight onto that turf-covered runway and did my best impression of someone who had a clue what they were doing. We took first place. We also took both our families to Taco Bell and raised more than a few eyebrows with my award-winning look.
I cannot even pretend to guess whether Heather or Susan either one would appreciate me posting the above photo, but it is honestly one of my favorite pictures in the history of pictures. It is exactly how I picture Heather...Susan telling her how it is too late and she has to teach tomorrow and Heather not even trying to hear that. "I'll get up early with you! I'll help you do whatever! Let's just go!" And of course, we went. And I'm so happy we did. Oh the places we'd go.
|Heather didn't just give me the shirt off her back here, everything I'm wearing is hers, from my sunglasses to my shoes. I cannot count how many times she and Stephanie told me, "just keep it!"|
I remember this day in Key West so clearly. Heather was positively radiant and I remember a street performer losing his train of thought as we passed by and spontaneously starting to sing about the "girl in tan and black". Heather just kept walking until I saw it flash across her face; she actually blushed and looked unsurely at me..."was he talking about me?" I had to laugh and assure her that he was. She hardly believed me.
But she should've.
Heather was there for the very beginnings of Lee and me. Like the 1996 beginnings. She was quick to call me on it, knew I was a lost cause, and did everything she could to make me appear way cooler than I ever was. She was on our side from the moment she saw we were a possibility. I remember her driving me to his house to tell him goodbye when I moved to Key West. "You'll be sorry if you don't." She was right. I remember pulling up to their house. Lee flew by on a motorcycle and Heather jumped on their four-wheeler and yelled to me to hop on. Terrified, I did, and we jumped over hills and wove through trees, following the trail after him. He was standing up on the motorcycle up ahead, looking back over his shoulder at us and laughing, and I remember so clearly her yelling to me that I'd be crazy if I didn't end up with him. How could she have known? She did.
How do you say goodbye to someone when you just flat don't want to? You don't. You know way deep down in your knower that you don't have to. Suddenly you wake up from the darkness of feeling like you know exactly where death's victory and sting are to the morning light of the promises you've hoped are true from your first conscious memory. Everything that felt cold is warmed and soothed, bathed in that glorious and brilliant light. Every cliche and old saying you've heard about eternity is blazingly alive and fills your chest with such hope that you nearly explode. You have an amazing link to a world you believe you've belonged to all along. You realize there has to be more to this story. That you really are a pilgrim here, a spirit preparing for what is really real. You feel a little bit like Tommy Decker and laugh and say, "of course she's happy, it's paradise!" And you don't mind asking that same Spirit who raised Christ up and dwells in you, too, to pass along a message or two for you.
You ask Him to tell her thank you. Thank you for the mischief, the hilarity, the unabashed love. Thank you for the sisterhood. For the stories and the adventures. For the hundreds of times she'd say, "let's sing!" and we'd belt out Alanis Morrisette and the Murmers and Will the Circle Be Unbroken. Please thank her for singing her orders in the drive-thru. And for that time in 10th grade when she did her math homework in blue crayon. I still laugh about that. Thank her for the giggles about her parents' marble fireplace. Thank her for that time at the end of Point Break when she stood up and declared if she couldn't have Kenunu she'd throw herself off a bridge. Thank her for the grilled pb&j's and stirring peanut butter into vanilla ice-cream and for that tuna/cheddar cheese/catalina dressing deal. Thank her for that time we baked a disaster of a cake and she poked holes in it and covered it in chocolate icing that melted right through and everyone declared it was the best cake they'd ever had. Thank her for dragging me down for the alter call at Dave Reever even though we were already saved and our Dads were Pastors in town...thank her for looking at me through tear-stained eyes and saying it was the right thing to do and that maybe us being brave and going down would help someone else feel brave enough to do it, too. Thank her for giving so much to me in every imaginable way. Thank her for being Heather. There will never be another, that's for sure.
Ron, Shirley, Steph, and Tommy...I'm afraid I have the advantage on you. I missed her already. And I know you've got dibs on the first 10,000 years or so, but after that, I want a turn.
|I borrowed this from her Dad. So beautiful!|
Toward the end of the service celebrating her life, I had to take the kids out because Jillian played the potty card. We sat on a couch outside the sanctuary and I had to tell the kids that if Heather was there, she'd undoubtedly have snuck out with us and be giggling and making merry with us. And that we'd be in big trouble afterwards with our parents because they'd probably hear us inside. But that she'd most assuredly charm her way out of said trouble and we'd laugh about it for years to come. Little rays of sunshine started peeking through the clouds right then for me.
At the close of the service, everyone began to sing and when Jillian heard the music, she clasped her hands together, drew them to her face, and said, "Oh Mommy. It's a happy ending. I love happy endings!"
I smiled through tears and agreed.
A happy ending for sure.
P.S. Steph, I agree...blonde. But I'm secretly hoping for red. ;)