I met Lisa Heyman last September at the Live and Learn Unschooling Conference in Black Mountain, NC. She walked up to me, grabbed my hand, and asked “Are you Seth’s mother?” When I answered in the affirmative, she pressed something into my palm and told me it was a gift to Seth from his secret pal.
It was the first night of the conference, and we were by the bonfire. I had been sitting alone, as usual, soaking in the free-spirited atmosphere and excitement of the gathering. Lisa sat with me for a few minutes, and we talked about her unschooling advocacy in upstate New York. I can’t remember all of our conversation, but I remember thinking “what a cool person”. I remember admiring her from afar thoughout our weekend at the conference…her cool pinkish hair, her vibrancy, her easy way with people. She was one of those people who my introverted inner self sometimes wishes I could be like.
I recently went no-mail on all of my unschooling lists except for one, the Radical Unschooling list on Yahoogroups, which I kept on daily digest. After my unread unschooling lists emails hit the 5,000 mark, I decided there was no way I was ever going to be as active in the lists as I wanted to be, and no way I was ever even going to read them all, so I did a major house-cleaning. Today, just before getting up to get ready for my shift tonight, I clicked open a daily digest from Radical Unschooling and learned of the passing of Lisa Heyman two days ago. I was stunned, and sat there for a minute, not knowing how to react. Then I began reading emails and blog posts from members of the unschooling community in rememberance of Lisa and in support of her family.
Anne Ohman wrote, (and I hope she doesn’t mind my quoting her here), “Last night, Sam came to me, tears in his eyes, and said, “I couldn’t, Mom. I couldn’t go on without you.” And I hugged him back so hard and so tight. Crying, I said, “But you could…you would learn how…and that’s the part that breaks our hearts…that’s the part that’s so so sad.”
And yet, that’s also the part that is so very wonderful about being *alive* on this earth. The learning. The growing. Sometimes it’s more painful than other times. But we do walk forward…as always…toward the Light from within our hearts.
Thank you, Lisa, for Your Light.”
A friend once told me that there was something truly cleansing about crying in the shower. That’s what I did. I cried for Lisa’s girls, and her husband Larry, because now they have to go on without her. I cried for the unschooling community in New York, because it has lost such a powerful advocate. Mostly I cried for myself, though. For the health that I take for granted. For the precious time that I have been too preoccupied to fully be present with my children. For not living my life to the fullest, 100% of the time. And for not getting to know Lisa, and so many others like her, while I had the chance.
I had decided that my family wouldn’t be attending Live and Learn this year, but I am now rethinking the matter. There are too many wonderful people that I have been shying away from.