I lost a good friend to cancer last week—Andrea Heiberg. Having no sisters of my own, I called her my Danish sister. We met about ten years ago when she found my editing website. She’d been looking for an American editor to help her realize her dream of writing in English—her second language. While the initial book we worked on together was never published, a collection of her short stories was—Next Stop: Sejer Island. It’s a great book, by the way.
Our friendship grew from our working relationship, and we often shared pictures and stories from our lives. We discovered that we’d both been raised on a farm and had a similar appreciation for the little things in life. And while I’ve worked with other foreign writers, there was this connection between us that’s hard to explain. Language was rarely a barrier. We just seemed to get each other.
Andrea was an amazing poet, and it’s sad for me to think no one will ever see most of hers. I’d like to share two of them today because she wrote one of them for me, and the other she entered in a contest I held years ago on my editing website.
This first poem, which won my contest, she wrote as a tribute to American service men on Veteran’s Day.
The Grass is Green
and whatever sky,
I tell you
I saw it
with my own eyes
I met my roadside
I heard no birds
She wrote this poem from one farm girl to another.
The Stable Minute
The dim light,
the sound of 68 cows,
the smell so clinical clean,
the sound of the machine
animals lined up chewing
and Dad working hard to keep us all alive
saying good morning
in her cow language
and me saying the same
teaching her to speak properly.
Andrea, I will miss your friendship, your wonderful sense of humor, and your amazing words. See you later, my dear sister!