365 Days Gone Just Like That


So. It's been a while since my last post. Over a year, in fact. The reason for this silence is that there has been one post which I needed to write before I could think of posting anything else. And the reason for that one post occurred exactly one year ago.

On July 3rd, 2012 I learned that my best friend and closest colleague, Heli had passed away. It was an utter shock to me, as I had called her just a couple of hours before she died. I could not believe it when I received the message. And delivering the news to others was probably the most difficult task I've ever had to face.


This past year has not been very easy. So many things were left unfinished, so many plans vanished, so many projects together can never happen. So many conversations can not take place now. And yet, even if we knew each other for such a short time, only a few years, I am grateful for each moment we spent together. Heli was an exceptional person in so many ways. I've known very few people with such a big heart full of warmth and love for those around her. She is and was loved by so many, and I am truly privileged to have known her. She always had kind words for her friends, her students, and her colleagues, and even though she was by no means a saint, she lightened the room wherever she went. She was literally and figuratively full of color, in so many ways.

It's funny what things you remember of your loved ones. For example, Heli loved her wee garden. She had planted there peonies, dahlias, clematis, large yellow loosestrife, irises - all kinds of flowers. She also loved her two cats, they meant the world to her. She loved tea, but passionately hated rooibos. She loved rye bread and wild mushroom salad and a particular ice cream with toffee and cranberry flavor. She knitted socks with DPNs, from the top down, and wore nothing but handknit socks. She knitted colorful orange, red, and green shawls, and wore them constantly. She loved warm colors: blue was not her favorite, and she could not stand the combination of yellow and purple. She loved everything French and English. As a teacher she was truly inspiring, always the first to use new gadgets in the classroom, always eager to use new methods and show others her passion. She went the extra mile for her family, friends, colleagues and students. She was a lively person, but also incredibly patient and assiduous with those around her. I admired her ability to get along with everyone. I will miss her witty sense of humor, her bubbling laughter, her smiling eyes, her big heart.


Heli's death has made me realize a few things. One moment she was there, planning her future, talking about her cats (a rather maddening habit of hers, and yet I'd give anything to hear the latest about her furry kids as she referred to them). And suddenly, she was gone, just like that. I wish I had done things differently, told her how much she meant to me, hugged her more, listened to her more, begged her to see her doctor earlier. I can never do that with her again. Her death taught me that those around us should hear and feel we love them as often as possible. And her death has also made me so thankful for all of my friends. I would never have survived this past year without their help.


Although this year has not been easy at times, life does go on, relentlessly, day after day and week after week. And life should go on. I do believe it is what Heli would have wanted - that one does not dwell endlessly in the past, but moves on, building on the memories and experiences with the loved ones who are not there anymore. After all, even though physically Heli is no longer here, she is still with us who remember her.