I’ve been sitting on a big, long, apologetic post about how terrible it is that yet again I’ve lapsed into a pattern of ignoring my blog, and yet again I’ve failed to hold up the promises I made on here, but, well, all that really just doesn’t feel important anymore.
On Friday evening, I received devastating news. A wonderful friend and colleague of mine passed away, extremely suddenly and unexpectedly. It was cutting news in more ways than one — Colleen was an inspiring and gracious coworker, a generous and thoughtful friend, and just a really, really beautiful person.
Colleen was, without a doubt, the most vivacious person I’ve ever met. She put my own enthusiasm for life to shame. Her million-dollar smile could lift your spirits by a mile. Her hugs were legend. And even if you only saw her in person once or twice a year, it was like no time had passed every time you were reunited. She just always made things that natural, that easy, that wonderful.
She was also one of the most considerate and thoughtful people I’ve ever known. From little notes on social media to handwritten cards in the mail to completely unexpected gifts, love was a language that Colleen spoke fluently. She knew how to make you feel special… even though she was the special one.
I have experienced very little loss over the course of my years, and I fully recognize how lucky that makes me. So I don’t think there is a way I could have been prepared for what I would feel upon reading the news of Colleen’s passing. It was like a tsunami washing over me. Shock, grief, utter disbelief.
I’m an emotional person, you all know this. Crying simply seems to be my body’s default setting — tears come when I’m happy, when I’m sad, when I’m angry… well, you get the idea. But for all the hours of my life spend crying, I can count on one hand the number of times I have really wept.
For the beautiful life of Colleen, I wept.
Tears fell, thick and heavy. My body heaved with sobs. I was just overtaken with this immense sadness at the loss of my friend, taken so young, so abruptly, so unfairly.
All weekend, I’ve read the words of others on this heartbreaking event. Words expressing heartache, words offering comfort, words celebrating Colleen’s magnificent life. And I’ve struggled to find words of my own that even start to express my own deep sadness. Because every time I tried to pull together something to say, put shape to my feelings, my words seemed to fail.
I questioned if I should even say anything at all. I questioned if it’s even fair for me to feel this loss so deeply. After all, Colleen touched so many people, she was a bright light in so many lives, and while I’m lucky enough to be counted amongst them, there are so many who knew her longer, better. Would it be better to grieve quietly, to let those who knew her best share aloud? Does saying something add to Colleen’s legacy, or… is it just selfish for me to be so affected by this?
I don’t know. I don’t have an answer, really. I don’t know what’s right or what’s wrong or what’s appropriate, I just know what I feel. I feel amazed by the community of people who loved and were loved by Colleen. I feel heartache knowing there won’t be any more legendary hugs or gushing sessions over our pups, that I won’t see her at Yelp’s annual CM Week in August, or during my trip to Orlando in November (something I had just emailed with her about a week or so ago.) I feel scared seeing how unpredictable life is, how it can be cut so short. I feel comforted knowing that Colleen will not fade out of our memories. And I feel inspired to live by her example — to laugh loudly, hug people with purpose, make every moment count, and to love — hard.