Ahh, yes. My keyboard and me; working out the hurt, the loss, the discouragement of life, and sometimes the celebrations. Today I look closely at a treasured friendship which ended in tragedy Friday, July 19, 2018. It was the kind of friendship that had seen rather intense events in our lives, and yet had drifted a bit in the last year. I fully acknowledge that drifting was caused by my need for space from something we shared; at least until I could find my way forward. I wish, as we all do, that I could have one more chat, one more I love you, one more cyber hug. This is my tale, my take on friendship.
Stacey Haggard Brewer and I met in the early days of a small publishing company I was involved with. To be quite honest, I don’t recall the specific link that brought us together, but we were instantly comfortable with each other. Stacey contributed to PDMI as an editor as early as the fall of 2013, not long after we had formed the LLC.
As I grew to know her, we began to share the more personal bits of our lives. She was searching at the time, trying to understand several emotions she was experiencing. Within a year or two she lost her father to cancer. The experience unsettled her at levels she was not accustomed to and the two of us grew very close as she talked through her feelings. She was finding it difficult to complete projects, to be motivated, to make decisions. Her search for a satisfying spiritual experience seemed to grow deeper and broadened in its focus. We spent hours in chat talking about our faith, what windows we wished we could open, what it would take to return to the origins of the faith where concern for our fellow man was paramount, rather than how many rules were kept or broken.
Stacey and I also shared writing projects, thoughts, dreams, troubled moments, and bits of joy. We worked together on several projects, one of which was an article I wrote which was published in the Eastern Iowa Review. The piece was accepted without change or edit – a testament to Stacey’s skill and kind advice.
Through the years I listened as she dithered over life changing decisions. I was sometimes impatient, but still willing to listen. She was traveling paths I had already journeyed; and I was prepared to share my experience – however deeply I had buried those years in my mind and heart. She was one of a very small circle of friends who walked with me through the final months of my husband’s dementia. She surrounded me with love as I watched him deteriorate more rapidly each day.
As our publishing venture began to unwind, some of the hard business decisions made me feel isolated from those that I had worked with. Somehow, Stacey understood, and she gave me space. It was one of the hardest decisions I have faced, but it was also obvious that I needed to withdraw myself and my support. Again, Stacey understood my pain and had only recently begun to reach out and reignite the more frequent exchanges that we had so often depended on.
I received the news when I returned home from work on Friday. A private message written by a mutual friend who did not want me slammed with some announcement blasted through Facebook without warning. Just as she did, I checked for the story – it was just too unbelievable to accept without question. Once I knew for sure I contacted a few individuals and then created a chat group so I could grab those who I knew would suffer from the loss. Then a bit of Stacey-magic was recreated. People that don’t often share these days came together to express their pain, their love, their community. To express how tight the bond between us was, even if we had never physically met. Whatever our joint adventure into the publishing world created, the most critical piece is mutual respect and a choice to care. That was Stacey, an unrelenting optimist and believer in the humanity of mankind. She held firm to the belief that if we could just learn how much alike we were, we could and would learn to thrive together.
This blog of hers pretty much says it all. https://staceyhaggardbrewer.wordpress.com/2015/11/15/iamlove/
There are many in our author group that worked with her on so many projects, or that beta read her pieces. We will be gathering all those pieces together and see if we can compile some of the magic that was Stacey. It will take a while, but I think we could all use the process, a way to remember a very special lady. Stacey Haggard Brewer: a writer, a photographer, an artist, an editor, an explorer… a friend.
“It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.” Ralph Waldo Emerson.
“He thought about this for a second. “True. But if you never really make friends, you probably don’t have anyone to be your 2 a.m. Which would kind of suck.”
I just looked at him as he stirred his soup, carrots spinning in the liquid. “Your what?”
“Two a.m.” He swallowed, then said, “You know. The person you can call at two a.m. and, no matter what, you can count on them. Even if they’re asleep or it’s cold or you need to be bailed out of jail…they’ll come for you. It’s, like, the highest level of friendship.” — Sarah Dessen (What Happened to Goodbye)
“The very condition of having Friends is that we should want something else besides Friends. Where the truthful answer to the question “Do you see the same truth?” would be “I see nothing and I don’t care about the truth; I only want a Friend,” no Friendship can arise – though Affection of course may. There would be nothing for the Friendship to be about; and Friendship must be about something, even if it were only an enthusiasm for dominoes or white mice. Those who have nothing can share nothing; those who are going nowhere can have no fellow-travellers.” — C.S. Lewis (The Four Loves)
We love you, Stacey. You were an incredible fellow traveler with much to share.