A Friend Writes about Erika
I think she must have always known the impact she’d leave on this life. She was fearless and driven and full of heart and everyone knew her nose flare and honest laughter were enough to put a smile on your face. She always was one to make waves. But sometimes, I think she had a deeper sense of meaning, some innate understanding that at any given moment the world might change, at any given moment she would affect someone for a lifetime.
All it takes is one of those beautiful Colorado snowstorms, the kind that blankets the world’s senses. Deafened by its silence and blinded by the sun shining back at me, I can’t help but fall into memories. Peach tea and rock sugar, that’s what I always had while using up my phone cards, calling Down Under for encouragement, or to cry or laugh or just know that someone was there. Everyone knew she was, “someone to laugh with, to cry with, to be comforted by, and to enjoy life with.”
If you had ever met her, it was hard to believe that such a worldly, city-loving, high heel wearing, sophisticated woman was born and raised in Durango, Colorado – home to 15,000 people. Then again, you might better grasp her compassion and graciousness and work ethic if you could see her pack of bunnies on Valle Vista Way, teenage days spent hostessing at the restaurant and pulling all nighters to win three state science fairs. If you knew about all that, you might have believed her when she told you she could do anything. I certainly did. Everyone knew, “She had good values, a strong sense of responsibility, community and service. She was simply radiant.”
Snow flies and I curl into my tea, lost in her laughter. Jumping in (and sometimes out) of the Jeep, beautiful clothes with the tags still on, gifts from each trip for the people she cared about, horseback riding in the Lord of the Rings Mountains – I still don’t know if she’d seen those movies, Crazytown. Never a dull moment, laying by the pool, we couldn’t have guessed that her escapades, and interning for Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell, would inspire a long road of interning for various offices in Washington, winning leadership awards, helping on McCain’s campaign trail and graduating Magna Cum Laude from American University. What would I be like if I had given the kind of effort Erika had? What could we all accomplish if we would only give half her effort? “Erika’s determination and ambition are qualities, among many others, that I always admired in her.”
One of the many Erika touched along the way, wrote that, “Life is like a piece of fabric, each strand of which representing a person in our life. The fabric of my life was the richer for the strand she was.” I keep this with me, this idea that we are woven together, each moment of impact, each time we come in and out of others’ lives, the cross strands that strengthen the fabric and weave the beautiful end picture. How those we’ve loved along the way help define who we become. I think Erika is one of the middle strands, woven deeply into the heart of the fabric. “She lived bigger, loved bigger and laughed bigger than anyone that we’d met,” and I can’t help but smile knowing we’re never alone. I wrap tight in this, warm with the notion of eternal reverence. A legacy to keep helping, inspiring, igniting change… everyone knew she’d be great.