Yesterday, as I was laying on a beach watching my daughters frolic in the surf , a gentle, quiet happiness settled on my soul. The kind that can only be found in moments of calm simplicity. Those that are so few and far between in everyday life that we hardly even expect them. Then, I glanced at my Facebook page and my joy hit over the head with a brick and left in its place profound sadness.
I read the news that, my friend, Anissa Mayhew had died. I don’t have all the facts. I don’t know what exactly stole this woman that I respected and admired from this world. The point is moot because the result is the same; a bright light has gone out.
You see, Anissa was the first person who ever asked me to write professionally. If you’re not a freelance writer it’s hard to describe so I’ll say it like this, imagine the 1 thing you love to do in this world, then imagine there is someone who not only appreciates it, reads it, comments and tells you that you’re talented but then offers to give you actual money to be able to share your talent with the world! She gave me the opportunity to pursue my passion and chase my dreams, when I had no idea what that looked like or how to get there. She gave to me hope and inspiration like she did for so many others, not with just her words but with what she did.
Anissa and I met online through social media and blogging and one day, she offered me a place (besides my own site) to be as bold and silly with my true voice as I wanted to be. In fact, she encouraged it. She hired me to write for Aiming Low and it felt like being selected to be a part of the online version of SNL. I was not only humbled by her request, I was honored. Through my time at Aiming Low, I really got to know Anissa and see her for the force of nature she truly was.
If you are a fellow Aiming Lower, you know what a magical group of people it was and you know it was carefully curated by Anissa; a woman who saw something special in each of us and our voice in this world. She had a knack for telling it like it was and doing it with complete love.
She loved me for my crazy, even when she knew how deep the crazy ran. That’s the kind of person she was. She was good and she was real and she saw that in others. She also had no qualms about calling an asshole an asshole and you have to respect that. She built me up before I even I believed in me.
She gave me permission to own my funny and all of my stories, no matter how big or small. But more than that she made me part of her magical, insanely kooky Aiming Low family. She gave me the gift of my people and I’ll always love her for that.
I’m sad. I’m truly fucking gutted. When I was sobbing on the beach, full on ugly crying. I’m sure someone YouTubed it. I’m also 1000% sure Anissa would have loved to have seen that video. She probably would have shared it? Laughed and sent me a message that said,”Debi, stop being such s little bitch!”
I loved Anissa for her giant heart, wicked sense of humor and that smile that only she could give that let you know it was all okay. She taught me that life is hard and so what, get over it. Get your shit together and get through it. There was something special about her way of looking at the world and the way she loved her people. And boy, did she love her people. If you are one of the lucky ones to have been loved by her, you know, she had you back….your front and your side, all the way.
I hate that the world has gotten in the way and none of us have been as connected as we once were because life and kids and the mundane shit of real everyday life but the love was always still there. I’ll miss Anissa more than words can convey. I hope she’s enjoying all the bacon someplace with really fine men fanning her with palms. I think she’d like that, especially if they smell of bacon.
I don’t know about you guys, but I’m feeling like from now on we get back to 2009 blogging. When you write ask yourself, what would Anissa do? And just write from your heart, comment like it matters, make connections, talk and care about more than just who will pay you the most to promote their product. Remember what we do counts… the human connections are real and far-reaching. Our words have weight and how we interact/ the way we care/love/laugh that’s part of our legacy. That’s how we’ll be remembered.
Thank you, Anissa, for giving me the balls to continue living my truth even when it wasn’t popular, the friendship to keep going during the excruciatingly hard times and for making all of us misfits feel like snowflakes, even when you had your own shit going on.
I could talk for days about how amazing Anissa was. I know many of us share similar stories and I hope that you will share your favorite moments about/with Anissa in the comments below. I want to reconnect with all of you because one thing Anissa’s passing has taught me is that life is too short.
But mostly, I want to send all of my love and prayers to Peter Mayhew and Anissa’s 3 beautiful children who she loved so very much. You’re in our thoughts.