Tonight I will meet friends at Heather Lowell’s house. Heather doesn’t live there anymore. She was taken from us after a long battle with breast cancer, on November 30th. But tonight, close to what would have been her forty-second birthday, her many friends will gather with her four young daughters to remember this amazing, vibrant woman.
Heather started Get Born, a literary magazine. Somehow the site is still up, though we expected it to expire before now. I was a regular contributor on the Get Born blog for three years. I only missed a couple of months, mostly toward the end of my tenure because my other writing was starting to take off. The ironic thing is that without Heather, I wouldn’t be the writer I’ve become.
Heather gave me the opportunity to write on her turf to and address her well-cultivated and adoring audience. She gave me a space on a stage to practice this craft with a deadline and a readership. None of us were paid, like so much that mothers do in life, Get Born was a labor of love. But it was like a college of sorts. I was part of a sorority of writers, growing and learning from each other.
The only condition Heather placed on my writing for Get Born was that it not always be about my son’s heart problems. When I started writing publicly that was my platform because of all the advocacy that I did. Heather didn’t always write about having cancer, and I would not always write about my child’s illness. As our editor, Heater wanted my contributions to be universal to all parents. I took her mandate seriously, and by the end I was writing about many aspects of parenting and many aspects of myself that were not specific to my identity as a mother. Heather’s challenge and encouragement made me stretch. It opened my mind, my heart, and eventually the words flowed quickly and with many layers of depth and humor.
My time writing for Get Born opened doors for me. I was invited to contribute to the American Academy of Pediatrics. I was published by the New York Times Motherlode Blog, and this year I was awarded the honor of a regular contributing role at Brain, Child magazine’s blog. Today, on the day we honor Heather, I had a piece published in Dame Magazine.
As we remember our friend Heather and mourn our loss, I keep discovering new gifts that she gave me. In this world without Heather, so many of us are finding our own way with the influence of her character and commitment to quality informing our choices. I wish I hadn’t lost my friend. I wish more than anything that her daughters still had their mother. Yet, this is how the world is. In spite of the pain of her loss, Heather did make the world a better place. Personally, she helped me find my true voice as a writer, and that gift is priceless. Her generous spirit and example sustain me, but none of that would have happened without Heather.