Celebration of Life
Heather Marie Weeks August 17, 1984 to November 14, 2008
"up here I feel the weight is lifted, I am strong, complete, and free"
. . . hearts are touched, lives are changed, friendships forged, and memories abound thru dancing on golden strings of love. . .
Heather A Bright Star A Ray of Beauty A beloved daughter A cherished companion To all a blessing from God! Now her ray shines in heaven The Lord has chosen to take her home. Oh, we will miss her greatly There is an empty spot where she once shone. But we rejoice at the thought of her peace and beauty Dancing with all her heart on the streets of her eternal home. Brenda Weeks
Heather Marie Weeks Celebration of Life November 22, 2008 The Word of Grace Greeting, Rev. B.J. Norrix, Senior Pastor Opening Song: 89 Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee, led by Kelley Witter Prayer Old Testament Reading: Psalm 150, Brenda Weeks Tribute in Dance and Song Introduction: Sara Messina, Anna Colabufo, Sara Campbell and Corey Ranallo Witnesses to the Life of Heather Marie Weeks Gary Weeks, Father Ron Devito Miss Tawn Song, Marc Maller John Weeks, Grandfather Jesse Irwin, Fiancé Song, Denise Weeks-Bush, Brenda Weeks, Joni Weeks (aunts), Ariel Weeks (cousin) New Testament Reading: 1 Corinthians 13:8-13 Homily: Rev. B.J. Norrix, Senior Pastor, Christ Community United Methodist Church Prayer of Commendation Closing Song: 378 “Amazing Grace” Blessing
Following this service the family would like to invite you to a celebration luncheon in the Fellowship Hall. Special thanks to Christ Community’s FISH (Friends In Service Here) Team, and the many volunteers who provided food, helped with set-up, and clean-up, ushering and moral support. Christ Community United Methodist Church 3474 Stiles Road Syracuse, NY 13209 (315) 457-9382 PastorBJ@ChristCommunityUMC.com www.ChristCommunityUMC.com 3
Heather in her final moments set the standard for courage, honesty, strength, and determination that I have certainly learned from. She gave me a new road map to who I want to be when I grow up. "...for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had been only the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on Earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before." -the final sentence of C.S. Lewis Narnia series "The Final Battle" Love, Ariel, Heatherâ€™s cousin
Our beloved Heather died on Friday, 14 November. We had become her professional home and as she struggled with cancer what kept her hope alive was that she would eventually return to our offices. Heather had a quiet manner and a gentle voice and her graciousness helped all of us as she organized the office and kept all of us on point. When she graduated from college she was a dancer and traveled the world performing as Zoe on Sesame Street. Heather was only twenty-four years old: too young to die. Elizabeth Howard, Chief Executive Officer, Ovarian Cancer Research Fund
I was fortunate enough to watch Heather grow on stage. First as a young child with a huge fall in her hair and then on stage as a professional dancer as Zoe. She had this magical quality one that could not be taught, one that could not be matched. As petite as she was she stood out, you couldn't take your eyes off of her. She captivated the hearts and souls of all that were blessed to have known her. Heather's strength, courage and light will remain in my heart forever. Tami Zerrillo (Miss Tawnâ€™s sister)
Heather is a golden girl who could never be forgotten. Her heart, her strength, her intelligence and her talent shine as examples for other young women to emulate. Joe and I will always love her and feel a sense of pride that she, as well as her mother, father and brother, will forever be a part of our extended family. Pat & Joe Lotito
Meet & Greet Zoe
Someday, I want to be able to dance like Heather… Heather has been my idol since I was seven years old. As young dancers at the studio, we used to play a game where we would pretend to be one of the older dancers, put on their music, and do their routines. Everyone would fight over who got to play “Heather”. I grew up walking around a dance studio hoping that one day she might notice me and say hi. That we might someday be friends. She walked around with the confidence and grace of someone twice her age. She was the most beautiful dancer and person I had ever seen. Fast forward a decade and you find us in a duet lesson and her wiping her snotty, running nose on the back of her hand, grabbing mine, and laughing hysterically. You would find us carpooling to a dance competition and beating each other senseless across the front and back seats. I felt like the luckiest person alive when I got to stand next to her in front of a crowd of people and accept awards like highest scoring duet. I was dancing with my idol. I never got over reading the competition program and seeing “Heather Weeks & Amanda Lydon”. There was my name next to one of the most honest, caring, and beautiful people in the entire world. Even then I looked at her as if she were a dream. When she graduated high school and moved on to study dance at the University at Buffalo, it was only natural that I wanted to tag along three years later, determined to follow in her footsteps, to somehow stay where she might always notice me. She was the older sister I never had. She and Auntie Frieda had become family. I could no longer imagine my life without them in it. I do not know what I ever did in life to be blessed with a friend like her. Why she would choose to befriend someone like me, so ordinary, when she was always undeniably destined for greatness beyond what any one of us was ever capable of. Heather is one of those people that walks into your life and never leaves. She brings loyalty, honesty, and love wherever she goes. Heather, I love you more than words can say. I will miss you until forever comes and goes and comes again. I will never forget you for as long as I live. We were the lucky ones to have had someone like you in our lives. The world was a better place with you in it. I love you forever, Mandi Lydon
To believe, to reach, to strive, is to keep a dream alive. Today we celebrate Heather’s strength and determination by remembering not to give in and not to give up even in the face of insurmountable odds… On November 14 as I said goodbye to Heather I was very angry at God. So many hundreds and thousands of prayer warriors prayed diligently and faithfully for Heather to recover. We are not happy with this answer to our prayers. This is a human reaction. Our faith tells us that possibly we just don’t understand God’s plan. Maybe sometime in the future we’ll see how this event fits into the puzzle of life. My understanding of Heather’s condition indicates the form of cancer she had was extremely aggressive, probably outside the boundaries of medical technology. I believe that God took Heather into his arms to protect her from months of suffering with possibly the same outcome. The message here that Heather wants you to know is don’t give up, don’t give up on prayer, it is the link that binds us together and gives us strength when all worldly things fall short. Pray hard and expect miracles. Gary Weeks
As I have been thinking about Heather over the last few days—and even over the last few months—I have reminisced in my mind and brought up many wonderful memories of an adorable child that would talk me into buying her things whenever I took her shopping. I had trouble saying no to her. She would see something she wanted and "I take" and that was it. She had it. There were many summers, many beautiful hot summer days with Frieda, Kristie and Suzanne in the backyard at the pool with our kids swimming. The little girl with the very high pitched scream as they all jumped and dove and played for hours in the pool. There was the little girl who danced and did dance moves everywhere—in the living room, in the backyard, in my kitchen, in the pool— everywhere—every chance she got.
benefit—and they are almost grown up now. But they have wonderful memories of a kind and thoughtful dance teacher named Miss Heather. She was considerate of her family and family connections and had developed a special bond with her Uncle Dick. And in August, she wanted to make sure that the family did not forget to celebrate Katrina's birthday because we were very involved with newborn Sophia and planning for the benefit for her.
Her blogs displayed her deep faith and she kept her positive attitude for a very long time. She was amazing in her ability to write what she was going through. Her last couple of blogs were very difficult to read— because her quality of life was She Is Not Dead, She Is Just Away diminishing at that point. But She became a dancer—she by James Whitcomb Riley several things I believe fervently, was a dancer—and I totally she is not dead—she is just understood her focus, her I cannot say, and I will not say away. I remember a poem by drive and her singleness of That she is dead. She is just away. that name from when I was a purpose. Her Grandfather With a cheery smile, and a wave of the hand, very young girl and I believe that has it, her Dad has it and I to be true. I believe that she is She has wandered into an unknown land. have it—it runs in our family. And left us dreaming how very fair not far away from us—although Frieda was the perfect Mom It needs must be since she lingers there. we feel far away from her right for Heather, she spent And you-O you, who the wildest yearn now. I believe that she is thousands of hours and For the old-time step and the glad returndancing for God "In Fields Of hundreds of days taking Think of her faring on, as dear Grace" (a Mike Weaver song). Heather to dance lessons and In the love of there as the love of here; She is dancing—what she loved dance competitions. They to do—and running with her Think of her still as the same, I say; were partners in her quest She is not dead-she is just away! dogs Kyle, Jenny, and Carlotta for excellence. And she and her cat Pumpkin. Frieda has achieved that excellence and already had a dream to that displayed it over and over effect—and so has Kathy Maller. again. My daughter Katrina so looked up to her cousin Heather and wanted to be just like her. I became less We know that God's plan was not our plan and not our connected to Heather at that point—because Katrina's hope—we would have kept her here with us. But I confess strengths and abilities are very different from Heather's that one of my prayers after learning of her illness, was that and I needed to spend time nurturing those. Katrina and she not suffer terribly. My hope was healing for her body and Nate have always been close and remain so. keeping her here, God's plan was a different kind of healing. I don't know how people who have no faith get through losses One of Heather's gifts to us as a family—as well as to like this. My faith is strong and I know that Heather had a many other friends were her blogs. We came to know huge impact in a short life-span here. My belief is that she will her as an adult through her blogs—things she would continue to have an impact on many people's lives—that is never have said to any of us in a one-on-one also my prayer. Her passions for dance and her two worthy conversation. Although some of them were very difficult causes—ovarian cancer and autism awareness will live on and became increasingly so, they showed what a through her family and friends. My prayers are with Jesse and magnificent young woman she had become. No longer did Gary and Frieda and Nate and all of her close friends who I see the young girl who appeared to be only focused on are feeling a huge loss in their lives now. Hopefully, they will dancing and theatre, but I saw a balanced, well-rounded find some peace with the belief that she is dancing with no young woman who had found a job she loved and felt pain now. God speed Heather, let us know you're around called to do—and more importantly—her life partner and once in a while. Watch for pennies and butterflies—Heather soul mate, Jesse. Sadly, she was not able to live out those you may now have understanding of why you were taken so dreams—marriage, family and fighting for a cause that she early. We may not know until we meet you on the other found immensely challenging. Joyfully, many people never side. The time will seem long and painful for us, but it will be find any of those things in a whole long lifetime. She in the blink of an eye in God's time. Thank you for enriching touched the lives of many little girls to whom she was our lives and teaching us lessons in dignity and grace. known as Miss Heather. I met several of them at the With much love, Aunt D 6
My earliest memories of Heather come from the stages of Salt City Center for the Performing Arts. She was maybe 7 or 8 years old. I think Jesus Christ Superstar, this particular year, was her first show ever. I know it had been a long time since I was in the theater, other than to watch a show. Now, I know what you're thinking—this must have been one of Carol 's famous performances—the one that local critics would rave about...(ahemmm... Joan). Not quite, I was there as a mom of a performer myself. A dreaded "stage mom". There were 4 "young dancers" in Superstar; Heather, Corey, Brandi and Sara. Being competitive dancers, all four girls, approximately 7 - 8 years old, had already been dancing / performing over half of there lives and were seemingly very comfortable on stage. Heather was no exception. Heather was a shining light on stage. Not just when she danced either. Among others, she was quite the dramatic and believable Helen Keller as a young girl. In theater, the girls became friends, Frieda and I became friends and as I moved on from "Stage Mom" to "Stage Manager", Frieda was often there as my side kick. Gary would often be in "the pit", playing the guitar and Nathan had joined his sister on stage. My boys had also joined their sister and me at the theater—working behind the scenes and sometimes on stage. We not only became friends, we were family, part of a very large "family". A theater family. A bond that extends beyond your wildest of imagination. Even as our children and our own lives moved on. Even with the closing of the doors to our beloved Salt City Center. Our "family" bond, hundreds strong, still exists. When you run into a member of this "family", it is as if no time has passed. Through our girls’ teen years, Frieda and I would see much more of each other, as Brandi joined the dance studio where Heather, Corey and Sara went. Tawn Marie 's Dance Center. Here they would learn, grow and perfect their passions. Here they would grow into they beautiful young ladies they were to become. They would dance together in groups. They were friends—in and out of the performance world. We would travel to dance competitions. Sit with each other. Support each other. Cheer each other on. Disagreeing (sometimes) with judges scores. The camaraderie and friendship among all of these young girls was amazing. As it was among the moms. Frieda and I didn't see much of each other over the past few years. Our children got older, as they do and moved on their separate ways. Frieda and I would mostly run into each other at Wegmans on Rt. 57 and make what should have been a 1/2 hour trip for both of us, a hour long catch up on the family, before we even began our shopping. Heather’s passion was her dancing. It was never a surprise to me to hear how she was doing, what she was doing or where she was performing. She was a beautiful young lady; dedicated, sincere, driven, loyal, had a great sense of humor and a great appetite—for food and life. When you watched her perform—she pulled you in—you believed the "story" she was telling you with the movements of her body, the depth of her eyes and the expressions on her face. As a dancer, she inspired many. As a person, she inspired so many more. Including me.
My daughter looked out our front window and saw JoAnn talking to Frieda by her car. She immediately wanted to race out the door and go say hi. I told her to wait. There was something wrong; I could tell. Days later we found out that Heather had cancer. My heart sunk. I remembered a beautiful smiling girl dancing at the recital a few years back. How could this be happening? We all have received those e-mails about friendship and loving one another and cherishing each and every day. Heather helped us all see things differently from the moment we learned of her illness. We read her blog and had silent moments of reflection. What strength from such a young girl. My kids looked up to her because she was so gorgeous and probably one of the best dancers to ever come out of their dance studio. They wanted to help out in any way they could. So we put together a benefit. It wasn’t hard to do. There were so many people that felt just the way that we did. We wanted to give back to one of our idols. Heather brought a community together in a very short time. Almost like September 11th when all of a sudden you saw flags on every doorway and people felt proud to be an American. Heather brought out that same spirit in all of us. We wanted to be connected to something good. My prayers will be for those that are left with the memories of this dynamic young woman. May you find peace and always cherish the happy moments Heather shared with you. I will remember the beautiful smiling girl dancing on stage at Liverpool High School and feel proud to have been a small part of her life. Karen Wilkinson
Carol Christiansen 7
Heather’s Legacy Ovarian Cancer Research Fund The Ovarian Cancer Research Fund was Heather’s last employer, but more importantly a cause she believed in very deeply. Her vision was to spread awareness of the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer, especially to those that may not get regular medical care. She wanted September to become Ovarian Cancer Month, where all clinics and care facilities would readily display information about ovarian cancer and that low-cost screening would be available to everyone who needed it. The enclosed bookmark was one of the projects Heather worked on to help spread information on ovarian cancer. As a legacy for Heather we plan to create an organization in Central New York to carry out her vision. We need volunteers and financial support. To make a donation in Heather’s name: Online: www.OCRF.org/Heather Mail:14 Pennsylvania Plaza, Suite 1400, NY, NY 10122. If you have time to help spread the message please send an email to GWeeks@writeme.com.
Heather Weeks Memorial Dance Scholarship Heather loved dance for herself, but she was even more passionate about sharing her love with younger aspiring dancers. She loved teaching the children and had a lot of patience as they tried to master the initial steps. We are launching the annual Heather Weeks Memorial Dance Scholarship to allow a promising younger dancer to continue with their dance training. The scholarship will be offered through Tawn Marie’s Dance Center in Liverpool, NY. There will be an annual fundraising event to promote this cause. If you would like to help: Email: Tawn@TawnMaries.com Mail: 1216 Morgan Road, Liverpool, New York 13090 Phone: 315-457-3151
Published on Dec 6, 2008
Heather Weeks Memorial Celebration Program used for her 11/22/08 Celebration of life. Heather Weeks of West New York, NJ, Liverpool, High Sc...