Shine on, Heather Andrews
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Life isn’t fair. It’s a known fact. Some of us find out early if, say, we lose a parent or a grandparent at an early age. Some of us go into adulthood knowing it, but still feel blindsided when tragedy occurs. We may be able to forget for a while.
But how quickly do we remember.
I lost a friend last week. And it’s not fair. She was a new face in my life who I met working in the solar industry. Her name was Heather Andrews, a union electrician, solar installer and educator. She was as passionate about solar energy as they come.
And I meet a lot of people who love this stuff.
I liked Heather because she was nice. Of course that wasn’t the only reason. But that’s one personality trait people lose sight of when their lives become too busy or they become hardened by life’s unfairness. Sometimes they’re just darn mean.
Heather didn’t have time for all that.
She had better things to do. Like becoming a social networking nerd like me. Not everyone sees it, but Heather and I shared that understanding of the amazing impact and reach social networks have on the world. Try to deny it or say it’s a fad. Social media isn’t going anywhere, and I see a world of endless opportunity for communication when it’s used properly.
Mean people: That means quit using social media to bully.
Heather was not just nice – although I really mean it, not everyone plays nice in this world and she did – but she was also enthusiastic. In my days on this Earth, I have noticed people are not only mean sometimes, but they can also be awfully grumpy.
Heather didn’t have time for that, either.
There is a big difference between people who are consistently pessimistic and overly critical and just grumpy because of hormones. I have my days when I feel blue and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight to things that keep going horribly wrong.
I’d make a dating joke here but it’s really starting to be a cliche.
I know, not everyone shows enthusiasm. Sometimes that’s restricted to cheerleaders. And infomercial salesman. As far as I know, Heather was neither. Officially.
I’d say Heather was officially the unofficial cheerleader for solar. When she wasn’t on a roof installing or in a classroom teaching about PV (photovoltaics, the official word for solar), Heather was tweeting about it using her Twitter handle @pvaddict. She loved sharing industry news, and she even documented her trip to Paonia in July to Solar Energy International with tweets. She wanted everyone to know solar technology and the true power of the sun.
And she used social media to do it.
In the short time I got to know Heather, she inspired me. Even though she is gone from the physical world at such a young age, 33, I feel like she’s always going to remain in a sunray that shoots out of the sky like something in a Renaissance painting. I may not see her but I know she’ll be close to remind me that the days do get brighter, even when there’s so much gloom.
I know that no matter how I feel physically – these days I feel like I’ve been through an exorcism thanks to some scary sinus issues – I should always stay optimistic and enthusiastic.
Most of all, I know that we should all play nice with each other, even if there’s a reason to be mad at someone or dislike them for certain personality traits. Get to know people like Heather did. Smile and be connected, whether it’s through social networking or the old-fashioned face-to-face way.
Heather would want us to do just that.
– April E. Clark sends her deepest sympathies to all the people in the world grieving a loss. Life really isn’t fair sometimes. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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