Sunday, October 01, 2017


I originally wrote this as a column, but in the insanity of summer, fires and everything else, it never quite made it. So here it is here.

Because it is too hard.
When I ask myself why I have not written a column about the passing of Sheila Tutty, or commented on the family’s posts, that is the only answer I can come up with.
Because it is too hard.
The words stick in my throat, they stick in my mind, my fingers don’t want to work.
Because it is too hard.
But sometimes we have to just take a breath, suck it up, and do the hard stuff.
So here goes.

Sheila. Dammit Sheila. You marked me, you know. With love, with stern moments when I messed up. With laughter, and hugs, and genuine warmth.
When I think of you, random moments come flying at me, moments from when you were my publisher, guiding The Valley Echo with deft strokes and strength, and moments of plain old friendship.

Like the morning you came in and I was in the editor’s chair while Ian was gone. I had made coffee, but some hallucinogenic malfunction had caused an eruption of coffee and grounds to flow over the basket, all over the counter, down the side and onto the floor. I was tired, grumpy, under deadline and the last thing I wanted was to deal with that mess. You growled, I growled back, then realized I had just lipped off to my boss and slunk out to clean up the mess and apologize. You gave me the look, but then you relented, smiled, and we got the job done.

The night you called from the BCYCNA awards to tell me I had won first place for community service writing. The plaque was accompanied by a carving. A large, silver beaver on a log. You’d had a few glasses of wine, I suspect, and you told me you were, at that moment, holding my beaver in your arms.
There was much giggling.

Late nights at The Echo. Late nights in the darkroom.

Eating schmeens, as you called corn nuts.

You bringing Graycen in to see us, him peeking around the corner and me saying, “you again?” For some reason that always seemed to amuse you.

Gleefully filling out forms for me because for whatever inexplicable reason you loved filling out forms.

Staff parties, pirate gift exchanges (I really did always make those baskets with you in mind, and held my breath until you finally got them).

The article I had written about condom use, and waiting for you do strike out the term pre-cum as unpublishable, me prepared to argue it was a legitimate term that was relevant to the issue, but instead you shouting through the office, “Is THAT what it is called?” and letting it through.

Hellos and hugs and bum pats at the grocery store.

As Ian said, we were a family. And like a family, we had days when we bickered, days when we laughed, days when we cried.
And now, days when we say goodbye.
It just doesn’t seem possible. But I know it is. And while I am no stranger to death, to saying goodbye, this was not a goodbye I was ready for. You fought the fight with cancer for 10 years, and won battle after battle. But in the end, it was one battle too many. So, rest… rest, my dear friend. You did us all proud.
When a person marks you, as I said you did, it means you have become a part of them. Random moments when I would hear your voice in my head, or you snorting with laughter at some goofy thing I had just done. A moment when I would be feeling frustrated when writing, or editing, or anything along those lines, and see that look on your face, that sort of encouraging yet unrelenting “get it done” sort of look.
Like this. I didn’t want to write. Did not want it to be official. Like somehow, if I didn’t fully acknowledge it, you would still be around.
And yet, you are, aren’t you? Just over my shoulder. Just around the corner. Just over there, in your office. Telling me to get it done.
There you still are. Right there.
In my heart.



Vallypee said...

Beautiful, Stevie. A lovely tribute to your friend and mentor. I didn't know her, but your words give me a sense of who she was - a wonderful, fun, strong person and friend. Bless her and bless you xx

Rachel Smith said...

Beautifully done. Love you lady.

Stevie said...

Thank you darlings... she was one of a kind. xo