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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Grief, pain, unexplained death.

Do you remember my Dutch Oven that my friend Heather gave me because I went to her house at 2 am to help her goat kid when she was out of town?  Heather was always doing things like that.  One day she brought me a casserole to work because I was worn out from our ewes having their babies and having 5 bottle calves at the same time.  She always had a smile on her face and was there to lend a hand or her Triple A card (long story).  She was at my house this last Wednesday for our "grown-up 4-H group" where we crocheted dish scrubbies.  She gave me a big hug when she left and told me she loved me.   Thank God for that.

Heather died yesterday in a tragic drowning accident.  She was stand-up paddling boarding with her husband and two daughters (13 and 11) and the line to her board that was connected to her ankle got caught on a snag and she was pulled under. 

I am in shock.  She loved her husband and daughters, loved life, was a "granola" type (all organic, skirts, braids, no candy, etc.) who loved technology and was addicted to Pepsi (I used to tease her about that when she nagged me about my double stuff Oreo addiction.).  We basically agreed to not discuss politics (she was very outspoken about her feelings about our government, whereas I tend to not get involved) or legalizing marijuana. Her husband called me today to tell me about her death, and he said to please always remember to tell those you love how much you love them, because you never know.  He then told me how much she valued my friendship and how much she cared about me.  I started crying and with the exception of an hour or so for our 4-H meeting (which her husband and daughters attended because they know Heather would have wanted them to keep going), I haven't stopped.



Life makes no sense, and it's not fair.  However, Heather would have been the first one to tell me that.  I don't know why this happened.  However, at a recent funeral, the minister said that the fact is, we live in a world with dangers and bad things happen, even to those who are experienced.  Do we hide from life and not do anything that might hurt or cause death? Because realistically, that could be anything we do... from driving to work, to exercising (I did Zumba for the first time last night and thought I was going to have a heart attack), to eating an apple (I choked on an apple slice a few months ago and it really scared me).  We can't be afraid of living... and doing new things.  Heather taught me that.  She wasn't afraid to be different, to stand up for what she believed in and say what she felt. 



But I am so numb, it hurts so much... I don't know why... and yes, I've lost loved ones, but honestly, my grandmother, my dad, people who had been sick a long time.  This is the first time I've lost someone out of the blue, and I didn't know how much it would hurt.  It hurts bad... I ache, and I can't imagine what her familly is going through.  I can't stop crying, my eyes hurt, my nose is raw and I've changed my shirt 3 times because keep blowing my nose on it. 

Life does have to go on, and Heather would have said something like "grieve, remember me and get on with what you need to do". 

So, that is what I will do, but for a little while, I will grieve for the loss of a very amazing woman and I will pray for her husband and daughters.

Heather Bonser-Bishop, know that you are loved and will be remembered!




19 comments:

  1. Oh, I am so so so sorry for the extremely sudden and senseless loss of your friend. There are no words at a time like this. You are in my thoughts and prayers tonight. She sounds like she was an amazing woman. :)

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  2. I am truly sorry you lost your wonderful friend. Sounds like she was a awesome lady and you were very blessed to have her in your life. I know your heart is breaking but I also know you have a special angel watching over you.

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  3. So hard to deal with a tragic accidental death, so different than dealing with a long lingering illness. Take care, stay close to her family and children.

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  4. You wrote a loving tribute to a person who it sounds like lived a life worth living. I know that may sound trite but so many people go through life whining and complaining but you can tell from Heather's smile that she participated in and loved life. Her girls will need another strong woman to lean on and I know you'll be there for them in any way you can. Saying a prayer for her family and sending you hugs and my sympathy.

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  5. I'm so sorry Ruth,that is to sad,my sister lost her son in a similar accident up north at the cabin,the boat capsized and Mark,( my nephew )made it back to shore but say his girl friend was caught in the rope just like your friend,so he went back for her,helped her and she made it back but because it was opener fishing and the waters in MN were still fridget ,Mark passed from hypothermia

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  6. Oh, Ruth, what a heart-breaking pity. How good that you got express your love and friendship before you lost her. I will put her family in my prayers - and you, too.

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  7. I met Heather 20 years ago in College. Even then, she was always so happy, and barefoot. and happy to be barefoot. The one thing Heather did better than nearly everything else was inspiring kindness.

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  8. Ruth, how absolutely heartbreaking! My son is sitting on my lap as I type; I can't imagine leaving him motherless....

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  9. Couldn't have said it any better. I find solace in that so many people also had the Heather Experience.

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  10. Hi Ruth.
    Thank you for this lovely post. ampm is right, even with her at such a young age so many people were privileged to have had "the Heather Experience." This is because she was so very generous with her love and time. Heather and I lived together in Arcata. Your dutch oven and casserole stories reminded of one of her kind acts during that time. Our apartment complex had a single father who lived with his two young daughters. One of the girls mentioned her birthday coming up. Heather jumped right on it and baked dozens of cupcakes and took them to the girl's school for her class to have a party. She spread joy. What a wonderful woman, and what a terrible loss.
    -Joelle

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  11. Life isn’t fair and death is even worse. When I lose someone I care about I sit outside and look at the stars and think about how beautiful it is and how there is no way someone so beautiful and amazing could possibly be lost or not be okay up there. I Let myself feel pain and loss and remember, no matter what my personal beliefs about life after death are, that she is resting now and the ones left behind, in time, will be okay but never alone, because we'll always have the memories.

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  12. Oh Ruth, that's just awful! When you said she was SUP my heart caught, we do that here in the Great Dismal Swamp and I'm always so freaked out with all the submerged stumps and branches, but always think "just be careful, etc", what are the odds? I am so sorry for your loss and her family. She sounds like an amazing gal and how cool that you were able to be a part of her life. You mentioned she was with her kids and I had to think, you know if us moms are actually given a choice, we always say take us instead of them, but what a shock. Thanks for introducing us to Heather, I'll say a prayer for her family.

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  13. Ruth, I'm so sorry to hear about your friend. Sounds like you had a lot of wonderful memories with her. Your post was a very sweet tribute to her.

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  14. Ruth thank you for your loving tribute to Heather. I was privledged to attend Cascadia training with her in 2005 and we connected over our stories about child rearing. What many people might not know was that Heather was instrumental in giving through her work with the North Coast Clinics network, seuring grant funds to pay for staff to help local parents enroll their children on Healthy Families. There are thousands of children and young adults in Humboldt County who are thriving and healthier as a result of Heather's advocacy work...she was a joy and I'm terribly disraught particularly about her daughter's loss. She was the mother we all strove to be and her legacy will live on in so many ways.

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  15. Oh, my gosh. I am SO, so sorry. It's obvious, thanks to your words, what an AMAZING woman she was. Thank you for sharing her with us.

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  16. My sister is an amazing woman. I don't know how it is that I'm supposed to continue on with life without her by my side. She meant everything to me and taught me in every conversation and every email. She raised two AMAZING little girls into beautiful young women and gave them a very strong footing for the rest of their lives. Ruth, my sister loved and admired you more than you could ever know. She wanted to do everything you did and she wanted to be just like you (well, maybe not the political part) She learned a lot about homesteading through her reading, but after she became fast friends with you, all her learning was done by your teachings. She loved you. I love you. I am so appreciative of all you have done for my family. I am so thankful to you and all of the adult 4H'rs for allowing me to be a part of tamale night and I hold the hope in my heart I will see you again soon. Thank you for being so good to my sissy.

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  17. I am just catching up and I am just crying for you. I am so sorry these things happen and I can't help from this distance but do know that I would in a heartbeat. It takes years to heal even a little, for a family with this loss. But we are forced to keep on going on. Her family is showing you how much you meant to her also, and what a wonderful family. I send my thoughts and prayers.

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  18. I can't believe it's been two years today. I miss the smile in her voice. I think of her often, and continue to pray for her family. I hope you are all doing well.

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  19. I'm so sorry for your loss Ruth! Will be praying for all involved

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