It's funny the stages you go through when you hear that kind of news. First it's just a numbness that just carries you through until you have time to think about what it all means.
And then you remember the good things. Heather was my next door neighbor for my senior year of college. I didn't share my room that year, and so she was my next best thing to a roommate. Neither of us slept very much that year, and we spent many nights coming and visiting with each other for brief study breaks. When I would have to be at work at 5:30am, I would come into her room and declare that I didn't know what to wear, and that I needed her help. After a couple of months of that, I came home one day to find a ribbon that said "I can dress myself!" on my desk. She said that she saw it in Michael's and thought of me.
She was always the first to throw a diamond in any picture. That girl had more chapter pride in her pinkie than most of us had in our entire being.
Heather was a star that shined so brightly you couldn't help but be affected by her mere presence. She was diagnosed with Adrenal Cancer while in college after having been misdiagnosed with PCOS, and from the first day she learned about her diagnosis, she was determined to not only beat cancer for herself, but to beat it for everyone coming after her. She was an avid member of Relay for Life. I donated to her relay team just a few months ago. And despite odds that were so incredibly unfavorable, she believed wholeheartedly that she could win.
Heather: you WON. You lived a life worthy of acclaim. You fought to make a difference. You were a champion of cheer. I have to smile when I think of you, even through the tears. That's just who you were to me. The friend who could brighten my day in an instant, the person I would go see when I hated everyone, because you could so easily restore my faith in humanity. I know we drifted apart after I graduated, but you have never left my heart. And you never, ever will.