Sunday, 18 September 2011


Saturday, September 17, 2011 4:20 PM, EDT

I wish I had good news, the thing in her brain turned out to be a stroke. Her blood pressure never really recovered and she was suffering multiple organ problems. She fought the good fight but succumbed to her bodily failures this afternoon. 

She died surrounded by family and friends who were in attendance as she ascended. It seems that God has need of something that needs done!

I wish I could say that I was able to read to her all of your good thoughts and prayers but she wanted me to tell you that I read sone to her and she appreciated each and every one,

May the peace of the Lord be with you all.
These heartbreaking words were written by Heather's husband, Scott.  Heather was 42 years old and the mother to Abby 10, and Ellie 8, two adorable young girls who are far too young to lose their Mum.

I've never met Heather, but she was a friend.  A friend I made over ten years ago not long after I'd had Joshua.  I was considering returning to work and the ante-natal group I was with was very anti in a different way - anti mothers returning to work, and instead of showing me support and encouraging me with the extremely difficult situation I faced, I was made to feel like the worst mother on the planet.  I found a website called BabyCentre, looked on the working mums board to see if there were other mums like me who felt wretched about having to return to work, but they were few and far between - in fact the whole site was slow and rarely visited.  So I turned to the US 'Working Moms' board and boy, did I find a huge welcome there.  I also found Heather.

For many months a huge group of us would post about anything and everything to do with our lives as Mums.  We got through teething together, eating problems, sleep problems, returning to work issues, learning to budget and juggle childcare and doing all the things a mum does, plus a full time job.  You name it, we shared it.  We talked about our beliefs, our faiths, our dreams and hopes for our children.  We also compared birth stories, bemoaned our jelly bellies and discussed planning our next pregnancies.  I shared about Joshua's food intolerances (one of the Mums on there was also on the food allergy board and led me there for advice I would never have found in the UK).  We shared our joys at our babies developing, passing milestones, we shared sleepless nights, we bounced ideas off each other, we moaned at each other and we had a lot of laughs together.  After a while we started to receive nasty posts from very militant SAHMs who really didn't understand who we were or why we worked.  It became an unpleasant place for us to be.  Also, as a close group we found we were dominating the board, so one of the Mums decided to set up a separate board away from BabyCentre which was closed invitation only and I was overjoyed to see the e-mail inviting me - I was and remain the only British Mum on that board and I feel honoured and privileged to be part of such a wonderful group of caring, loving and considerate women.  Women who cover all walks of life, we have Mums in the field of law, engineering, forensics, accounting, admin and many more professions - all united by one common factor - we started off as mums who worked outside the home.  We are now a mixed group with some who have managed to beat financial pressure and debt and have stepped over the boundary and now stay home with their kids.  We were overjoyed for them when they managed this and the diversity of our group dynamic in this respect has made us even closer.

Heather was also in this group - in fact, she still very much is.  Her overwhelming joyous and  vibrant personality will ensure she remains very alive on our board.  We've shared more than ten years of living her life with her online.  She has shared about her girls growing up, about her work, how much she loves her husband, church, her friends and just about anything we've randomly posted about.  She was a very clever woman, very in tune with people's feelings and able to just say the right things.  Her posts were hugely encouraging and at times so funny you'd have to read through a haze of tears through laughing so much.

Many of us have not met - some have - I'm yet to make it to a get-together - I am determined one day I will and Andy knows the importance of these ladies in my life.  Some people may find it weird and freaky to get close to somebody you've never met, but this is the thing about this group - we're real.  We are real women, real Mums, real wives and girlfriends.  We just live a long way from each other.  Ten years ago, a group like this was unheard of - we were very unique in how we operated and it's not without any surprise that Heather was in this group. I can't imagine what it would have been without her.  We loved her posts, we loved her wit and humour, we loved her words of encouragement and her ability to open up about herself and let us see just what wonderful woman she was.

We've seen triumphs on our board - we've celebrated when a friend has beaten breast cancer, we shared the anguish of one friend being diagnosed with Graves Disease, we've cried over miscarriages, we've fumed over absent fathers not doing their things for their kids, we are great friends with a Mum who has a child with mental health problems, we've smiled from ear to ear when a pregnancy has been announced and we've gone gooey over pictures of newborns, we've posted pics of our kids starting school.  We are a family - a very close family, so close in fact, that in the past we've had other women want to join our board as they know it's so supportive and we've had to reluctantly turn them away because it would rock the dynamics of just how strong we are as a unit.

But our unit has been struck by the biggest bolt of lighting yet.  Of all the challenges we have faced as a group and individually, nothing has been as immense as the battle Heather faced.  She complained of her back hurting as far back as April and posted regularly about how it was affecting her comfort at work, how she couldn't sleep, how it had sucked the fun out of summer for her, how she was getting all sorts of different treatments.  She was a fit woman, training for triathlons, working at a good job and enjoying the everyday normality of being a Mum to two beautiful girls, being Scott's wife and a much loved friend to the huge, huge group of people around her. 

Heather once mentioned how energetic her parents were and how she wished when she was their age, she had their energy for when her own girls had children of their own. When we discussed other things involving kids she said she had thought about how sometimes it's better not to tell some kids about bad stuff until it's about to happen, especially if they're the type to worry and fret.  It's a cruel irony now that she won't get to be energetic when her girls grow up and that her girls are now having to cope with the most horrific bad news a child can be given. A cruelty in their young lives they will never get used to.

Heather went into hospital two weeks ago due to her chronic back pain.  She posted to us that she was having tests done and would likely be in hospital for a few days.  She posted briefly on Facebook that she had 'pan can in liver'.  That's the last we heard from her.  We have kept in touch with Scott about her condition and we have cried bucket loads at hearing the doctors had confirmed she had pancreatic cancer which had spread to her liver. She never had time to digest the news and get her affairs in order.  She never even had time to start fighting the disease. We were stunned when just six days later we lost our beautiful friend.  Our vibrant, funny, nutty, triathlete Heather.  

Our prayers and thoughts are with Scott, Abby and Ellie and also Heather's Mum and Dad.  Heather had a huge real life support group and we know that the family will be well cared for.  Heather was a believer and through all the angst, pain and grief, the only consolations are that her pain was brief and that when it ended she was able to run straight into Jesus arms.


MPPs Mom said...

Beautiful tribute to Heather and to our group. Thank you Karen.
XO & Giant Hugs,

Anonymous said...


A beautiful tribute to an awesome lady! I left the board a while ago, but am so happy to see it is flourishing to this day. Hug your babies, especially the fourth. I'm not sure I knew about that one! :)


Michelle said...

Absolutely beautiful Karen!

Michelle said...

Absolutely beautiful Karen!

Anonymous said...

This is so beautiful Karen. Thank you. I know how awesome our group is, but this gave me such a sweet reminder. We'll survive this, just as we've survived everything else. Together.


Julie Marsh said...

Karen, this was lovely. So glad to be back in touch with you, even as we mourn our friend together.

Tree said...

Karen, thank you so much for expressing so beautifully how I feel about each of you.

Anonymous said...

That was beautiful Karen. I love our family. Marianne

Anonymous said...

Karen, This is wonderfully writen. Thank you so much for putting the meaning of the board and Heather's relationship to us all into words.

Janelle O.