My best friend, Stephanie Meyers, died on Wednesday. Suddenly, awfully, inexplicably. She was 37.
On Monday, she FaceTimed me to laugh about something ridiculous. On Tuesday, she started having trouble breathing, and called 911. The paramedics who came apparently thought it was an anxiety attack. On Wednesday, she collapsed. By the time the paramedics returned, she had died.
Her lungs had filled with blood clots, we know now. We don’t know why; we might not ever know. It doesn’t make a difference, I guess — she’s still gone — but it feels like we’ve failed her by not yet solving the mystery of her death. Although for Steph, who loved mystery novels and was writing her own, leaving behind a mystery feels appropriate. She’d be so annoyed to miss the chance to solve it herself.
She was just 37. Smart, strategic, thoughtful, funny, kind but no-bullshit, positive but practical, fanciful but responsible. Annoyingly prompt and utterly reliable, Steph was the person you wanted running any project, party, or zombie-apocalypse survival strategy. She loved creating elegant, sly plans to achieve her long-term goals, and then flawlessly executing them. She did that for her own career ambitions and those of her employees; for anything her family and friends needed; and for her health, which she ruthlessly managed. When it came to navigating health care, Steph was the most conscientious, informed, and proactive person I’ve ever known. Yet she died of undiagnosed blood clots.
She was happy. She was hot. She would want me to include that, less for vanity — although she always looked flawless — and more because New Year’s resolutions were a religion for Steph, along with shopping for cute dresses. And one of her resolutions for 2021 was to emerge from the year of elastic pants into a summer of great hair and sharp clothes. She was already strategizing about her outfit for a friend’s August wedding.
There were so many bigger things Steph was planning to do, now that the end of the pandemic was in sight. She was about to leave her longtime media job to start a new phase of her career in the tech industry, to finally use the MBA that she dedicated three years’ worth of nights and weekends to earn. She graduated in May 2020–and though she had to postpone the bigger celebrations she was planning, she never complained very much. She was the most cautious and responsible person I knew during the pandemic, and she didn’t want her behavior to put herself or anyone else at risk. But she was so happy to get vaccinated. She was so excited to get her future back.
She was also thinking about starting her own family. Steph so wanted to be a mom, especially after losing her own mother to cancer. She was cheerfully plotting to fit a crib into her studio apartment and strategizing over how to raise a child with her support system of family and friends in New York and Chicago.
She was already a beloved aunt to her friends’ children — and a beloved daughter, sister, colleague, mentor, manager, social-media expert, editor, travel companion, cheerleader, friend. She was such a terrific, irreplaceable friend. “She was always rooting for me to be the best version of myself — and she did that for all of her friends. She was fiercely loyal and was always encouraging her friends to never settle for less than they deserve, in any area of life,” writes her friend Katie, who’s known Steph since they were both five years old. “To be her friend was to know that you were loved and had an ally, always.”
She was my best friend. But that’s woefully inadequate to describe Stephanie Meyers, and who she was to me. She was my person. She was my person for years before the pandemic, and my sanity once it started. She was the person who helped me make sense of life, the big joys and the unexpected blows and the small, stupid things. She was the person I came to with daily frustrations, job uncertainties, family worries, friend problems, dating horror stories. She was my unofficial editor and career counselor, always full of a million ideas and happy to listen to my writing insecurities and reporting roadblocks. Our conversations could range from politics to poetry to skincare to silly TV shows in a single afternoon, with digressions into book ideas or salary negotiation tactics or hopes for someday finding romantic partners who supported us as well as we supported each other.
Since the pandemic started, we relied on each other even more. We talked almost every day, and met up for weekly, masked walks in Central Park. We even took a couple of pandemic-era vacations together, sharing AirBNBs in Chicago and Cold Spring, New York. Not exactly our planned trip to Greece; not the earlier adventures we had together in Morocco and Iceland and Mexico and Puerto Rico. But I’ll always be grateful for the weeks we spent living together in Chicago last summer, drinking wine on the back porch and laughing in the sun off Lake Michigan and sharing our gratitude that the pandemic had given us this wonderful silver lining, the time and space to visit our local families and friends and become a part of their daily routines, without having to rush back to our New York offices.
However awful the pandemic has been, having Steph in my life made it so much better. She made parts of it joyous. I told her that the last time we saw each other, four days before she died. I’m glad for that, at least.
During that last walk together in Central Park, Steph posed a philosophical question about the difference between a reason and an excuse. I don’t know either for why she’s gone. There’s no reason. There’s no excuse. There’s nothing that can make this make sense.
In the numb days since her death, there have already been so many absurdities, questions, and even sporadically funny moments that I’ve wanted to share with Steph. She’s still my person. She’s the one I need to help me make sense of what happened to her. And I can’t even begin to understand what the world looks like without her in it.
Donations in memory of Stephanie Meyers can be made to Girls Write Now.