In 2013, 36-year-old Heather McManamy from Wisconsin was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. By November 2015, it was clear that there was nothing more that doctors could do for the young mother, and she was given six weeks to live. In the days that followed, Heather took the time to write a letter to her friends and family. After Heather passed away, her husband Jeff McManamy posted the goodbye letter on Facebook, as per his wife’s wishes:
“So… I have some good news and some bad news. The bad news is, apparently, I’m dead. Good news, if you’re reading this, is that you are most definitely not (unless they have wifi in the afterlife). Yes, this sucks. It sucks beyond words, but I’m just so damn glad I lived a life so full of love, joy and amazing friends. I am lucky to honestly say that I have zero regrets and I spent every ounce of energy I had living life to the fullest. I love you all and thank you for this awesome life..
Whatever religion brings you comfort, I am happy that you have that. However, respect that we are not religious. Please, please, please do not tell Brianna that I am in heaven. In her mind, that means that I chose to be somewhere else and left her. In reality, I did everything I could to be here with her, as there is nowhere, NOWHERE, I would rather be than with her and Jeff. Please don’t confuse her and let her think for one second that is not true. Because, I am not in heaven. I’m here. But no longer in the crappy body that turned against me. My energy, my love, my laughter, those incredible memories, it’s all here with you. Please don’t think of me with pity or sadness. Smile, knowing that we had a blast together and that time was AMAZING. I fucking hate making people sad. More than anything, I love making people laugh and smile, so please, rather than dwelling on the tragic Terms of Endearment end of my story, laugh at the memories we made and the fun we had.
Please tell Brianna stories, so she knows how much I love her and how proud of her I will always be (and make me sound waaay cooler than I am). Because I love nothing more than being her mommy. Nothing. Every moment with her was a happiness I couldn’t even imagine until she came crashing into our world.
And don’t say I lost to cancer. Because cancer may have taken almost everything from me, but it never took my love or my hope or my joy. It wasn’t a “battle” it was just life, which is often brutally random and unfair, and that’s simply how it goes sometimes. I didn’t lose, dammit. The way I lived for years with cancer is something I consider a pretty big victory. Please remember that.
Most importantly, I was unbelievably lucky to spend over a decade with the love of my life and my best friend, Jeff. True love and soulmates do exist. Every day was full of hilarity and love with Jeff by my side. He is genuinely the best husband in the universe. Through all my cancer crap, he never wavered when so many people would want to run. Even on the worst days you could imagine, we found a way to laugh together. I love him more than life itself and I truly believe that a love like that is so special it will live forever.
Time is the most precious thing in this world and to have shared my life for so long with Jeff is something I am incredibly grateful for. I love you, Jeff. I believe that the awesomeness that is Brianna is our love brought to life, which is pretty beautiful. It absolutely breaks my heart to have to say goodbye. If it’s half as sad for you as it is for me, it breaks my heart over again because the last thing I ever want to do is make you sad. I hope that with time, you can think of me and smile and laugh, because, holy shit did we have a breathtaking life. Go google Physicist’s Eulogy and know that it is a scientific fact I will always be with you both in some way. I know that if you just stop and look hard enough, I’ll be with there (in as non-creepy a way possible). You’re my world and I loved every second we had together more than words.
Friends, I love you all and thank you for the most wonderfully awe-inspiring life. And thank you to all of my amazing doctors and nurses who have taken such incredible care of me. I don’t doubt that my team gave me every possible good day that they could. From the bottom of my heart, I wish all my friends long, healthy lives and I hope you can experience the same appreciation for the gift of each day that I did. If you go to my funeral, please run up a bar tab that would make me proud. Heck, blast “Keg on My Coffin” and dance on the bar for me (because there had better be a dance party at some point). Celebrate the beauty of life with a kickass party because you know that’s what I want and I believe that in a weird way, I will find a way to be there too (you know how much I hate missing out on fun). I look forward to haunting each one of you, so this isn’t so much a goodbye as it is see you later. Please do me a favor and take a few minutes each day to acknowledge the fragile adventure that is this crazy life. Don’t ever forget: every day matters.”
This ode to life has already been shared on Facebook over 26,000 times and has touched people all over the world. “I miss her badly,” wrote husband Jeff. “I am positive she is still around all of us. I feel her in every moment of every day. Brianna definitely inherited her strength and spirit. Heather’s spirit is living on through Brianna’s beautiful brown eyes.”
May Heather’s courageous words continue to remind us to make every day count.