Sadness and regret are the first two things this gloomy day brings me when I open my eyes. It has rained since Monday. I cannot begin to conceptualize what Amy’s children, family and close friends are feeling, because my despair is deep.

I met Amy in 2012 when I moved to the area from my lifetime home of Lexington. I left my career, friends and family; it was stressful, uneasy time for me. But that is also when I met Amy. We stumbled on each other in Bellefonte one evening, and in a short time, we shared a connection. She was my first friend. She made me happy and, most importantly, hopeful.

As I reflect upon that time now, I am most struck by the realization that she was perhaps the only person I have ever known that made me feel it was safe to be completely honest.

Despite how alike our paths were, we were two different women with unique struggles, but my private pain was safe from judgment with her. My sins and weaknesses were made lighter to carry because of my friendship with her. It is not possible to fully explain the beautiful influence she had on my life. My heart is truly broken — it literally hurts. I’ve had to stop looking at social media, because my feed is overwhelmed with stories about her light — it has been since Monday night.

Although I know the sun will eventually come back out, I am not sure when. I am not sleeping regularly and the hollow rock in my stomach feels more like a burning ache this morning. I am wounded. I feel alone. I am quiet. I am so sad. The last time I talked with Amy was nine months ago. We made plans, they fell through, and we agreed to get together “soon.” Any time I was reminded of her, I told myself to reach out. But I didn’t act with urgency, because I had no way of knowing I should have. That is, of course, a lesson.

The cliche things that people say in times of loss all apply: She was beautiful inside and out. We should tell people we love that we love them while we can, because tomorrow is not promised. She is in a better place. She is at peace and no longer feels pain. We will see her again. Her loss is profound, to me and the greater community. Her death is unfair and shocking. I am stuck. On Tuesday I told my mother that we should all be blessed to love so many other people in our lifetimes.

And an accurate measure of her love for others is likely revealed by the number of people that loved her in return. Her passing is a great tragedy. And as we search our hearts for “closure,” it is impossible to ignore the impact that this time of uncertainty has had on how we process Amy’s sudden loss. It complicates the weight of all things unsaid and undone.

I find comfort in the belief that we, as her community, joined together in a silent vigil to mourn her passing. I watched the rain from Monday to Thursday with her heavy on my heart. It saddens me that I cannot pay my respects to the Leake, Jordan, McCullough and Wilburn families in the traditional way. I extend my deepest sympathy for her loss. I will always love her. She is in my heart.

Stephanie Short


(Written on May 21, 2020)

Recommended for you