05 February 2009

My cousin died today -- To Heather Montoya!

I feel completely morbid writing this on my blog, but I think putting what has happened in written form will help me process the loss of someone I felt connected to -- a new thing for me.

I met Hezzy at our family reunion in the little town of Golondrinas, New Mexico. Our family, the Montoyas, have lived in this gorgeous part of NM for a good deal of time and the family ranch is immense. As a child, I'd visit and swim in the river, cross the rope bridge, and eat Aunt Daisy's homemade tortillas and chile con carne. AWESOME! In the summer of 2007, we had a huge family reunion, and it was at this reunion that I met Hez. 6 years older than I, I saw her as the older sister I'd really like to imitate. Vivacious, spunky, ain't gonna take crap from anyone, she was pretty much the bees knees. She and I talked about our travels, our passions, our lives as we gallivanted with the fam, drinking and dancing around the bon-fire. That Fall, I visited her in San Francisco, and below is one of our many fotografias. I've decided to leave out the many she took of me when I was pretty tipsy. HA!

I was hoping to visit Hez again this past Friday, but things didn't work out. I've been up in the Berkeley for a writing project, and on Monday, I received a call from many different family members (in NM and in CA) that I needed to go to the ICU of Pacific Campus in SF because Hez had had a stroke Sunday evening and then soon slipped into a coma due to the aneurysm in her brain located near the spinal chord I think. I was pretty much unbelieving of the seriousness of the situation until I saw her that evening, and then and there, I realized that it was bad, very bad. Tuesday we heard that her reflexes had shown some reaction and that there was still blood flow on the top of her brain, but Wednesday, yesterday, the doctor revealed that the scan showed a larger hemorrhage than anticipated and irreversible damage on the lower part of her brain.

Conversation then became more about organ donation and the celebration of her life to be held Saturday. Fortunately, providentially, I happened to extend my flight until Sunday morning, so I'll be here, and I'm glad and moved because I've been present with Hezzy during this whole time; what a privilege! Even today, I walked to the hospital from the BART and a visit to CIIS, and I arrived later than I hoped, but as I arrived, I encountered Hez's mom, Francesca, and we had this amazing healing conversation about my shawl that I had put on Hezzy while in the hospital and how Fran planned to wear it the next few days, put it on Hez's altar at the celebration on Saturday, and then give it back to me with all the blessed energy! And, yes, it was as I was talking with Fran, at 3:11 (Hez's birthday and room number in ICU) that Hez was pronounced dead.

I'm here, I'm present, and I'm thankful. I love you, sister, prima, Hezzy Montoya.

You lived life fully; you were larger than life; you were an inspiration to LIVE OUTLOUD!


Joshua said...

Hey Cristy -

I used to work with Heather at Greens and loved her big! Talk about someone with a zest for life, unapologetic in her opinions and full of enviable energy! My condolences to you and to the rest of her family. She was so memorable to me who only knew her for a few years, I can only imagine the empty space she'll leave in others who knew her for longer.

ChrisB said...

Hi Cristy,

I am shocked and very sad at the news. I worked with Heather at Greens Restaurant, and loved her vivaciousness. Please accept my condolences, and please tell me where and what time is the memorial so I can try to be there.


mklee said...

Hello Christy-

My condolences to you and to the rest of her family. Hezzie and her fierce joie de vivre will be missed dearly!

I too would like to know where and when the memorial will be held. Thanks.


Dee said...

Christy -

I was shocked and saddened to hear about Heather. She started working at Greens shortly after I did. What energy, what charisma, what charm. She was a great, fun woman. I'm so sorry I won't run into her at the Page again next time I'm in SF. She truly had a love for life and a love for everyone around her. I'll always remember her, and I'm so sorry for the loss.

cristyroses said...

The celebration will be held this Saturday, but I'm not sure where. Fran said it was at a park near Pacific Campus hospital that was adjacent to Hez's friend, Tristan's home. She asked me to keep from noon on free. When I find out more information, I will post it here.

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and feelings about Heather!


Ben Snavey said...

So sorry to hear about your loss. Heather and I formed a deep bond over the 3 plus years I was at Greens Restaurant. She was a mentor to me and I could go on and on about the great qualities that she had. Her spirit lives on through life and death and we will all always love her. Much respect to you on your journey and thank you for writing this beautiful blog. SIncerely, Benjamin M. Snavely

julie said...


I am so sorry for your loss. I too worked with Heather at Greens. Heather was one of the most vivacious, compassionate and hilarious people I have ever met. She was very kind to me during some rough times, and even though it has been several years since I have seen her, the positive impact she made is still felt to this day. She will be greatly missed.


cristyroses said...

The ceremony for Heather will be at 1pm tomorrow, Saturday the 7th, at Alta Plaza Park. We are meeting at the Central Staircase.

Afterward, we are going to a home at 2870 Washington (Between Scott and Divisadero). Please bring something to eat and/or drink.

I hope to meet you all there if you can come. :)

Bro Lo said...

I'm so sorry for your loss.


bump said...

I was saddened to receive the call about Heather's passing. I loved her so much, we met in Cozumel Mexico where we both worked for the same resort over 12 yrs ago. We immediately connected and have been soul sisters ever since. She visited me in Ojai and I came to see her in San Fran. The last time we spoke she was sharing how happy she was, she was in love and in a good place in life.
She will always live in our hearts, in the wind... and in the dance there will always be Hezzie.
Jill Olivares Ojai Ca

Chris said...

We met 15 years ago when we were neighbors in a bldg that I managed. I think she was 24 or 25 then or so. I realized than that she was a force of nature, already very wise in her ways and principles, already a healer and adviser. Over the years we would bump into her at different places and catch up. She never lost her perspective. A sad loss for the world of people who knew her, and an even greater loss for those who didn't.

Chris Kindler

Nancy T. said...

Cristy, I found your blog and am so touched by your moving words. I send you all my condolences and virtual hugs in an attempt to comfort you and share your loss. I am a friend of Francesca ( and JEannie and Adia) from Vegas, and Fran was very close to my sister, Dana. Was? well, Dana died two weeks ago from the SAME THING, very suddenly. I hadn't heard from Fran, although many of your relatives were at Dana's service. Fran called Monday, and my mother doesn't hear well, so I followed up with Jeannie. I don't understand any of this, but I have to believe that this world just could not handle all the beauty and energy of Heather. She really was a gem, and had to be shared.
I am so sorry for you and the family.
In Judaism we say, "may her memory be for a blessing..." and it was only after Dana passed that I really understood that. Your life is richer and blessed for having shared it with Heather. Hold on to that. I cannot be at the service, so please express my condolences. Love to you, Nancy Terr

Melina said...

Thank you for posting this about Heather... I appreciate the details.
I also worked with the lovely Heather at Green's in SF.
I will always remember how unique and beautiful she looked riding up on her cruiser bicycle.
She was actually part of my inspiration for becoming a massage therapist.. which I am currently doing full time in Tn.
I will always remember her striking smile and her lively laughter.
That woman knew how to enjoy herself and it was contagious.
Some of the brightest lights go early it seems.
She was a support to me when I needed consoling for my own younger sister's passing.
Much love to all those who loved her!

walter said...

Cristy Rose:
A candle may stinguish its fire, but a soul with its wonderous energy mantains its flame going as the stars. Hezzie's fire enriched so many other fires as it was ment to be, her memory will continue living beyond the Montoyas that were the conduit for all of us that were bound to meet because of Hezzie's grace. In our family tradition we say "Zinchrono L'Brachah Hezzie" (May her Honored Memory live with us forever)Wherever you are, have a great trip.
With Love always
Walter and Family

John Hsiao said...


One of my favorite quotes is, "Emotion, which is suffering, ceases to be suffering as soon as we form a clear and precise picture of it," by Viktor Frankl.

You have become stronger from this experience of losing, such a loved one, in Heather.

Sometimes, this suffering as we term it is indescribable, but it becomes something quite different if we can turn it into something good.

I see that in you as you are spreading her memory as far and as wide as you can so articulately and so lovingly.

Keep doing your cousin the life/love of that blessing by keeping her memory alive.

That Judaism quote really does apply, and I agree with what everyone hear says.

Stay strong and sweet in spite of this unforeseen tragedy.

My thoughts and prayers turn to your family. . .

John Hsiao said...

Do not suffer, but truly live. Live in Heather's memory and do her privilege of living your life to the fullest as you exemplify here.

Naughty said...

Hi C -

I Knew Hezzy since about 1997 when we all were wild and free in SF. She had a way of lighting up any room she was in and her laugh was something else...could not help but think of her teasing me on my wedding day and getting me to laugh so hard my butterflies went away...

RIP Hezzy!


Ed said...

Thank you all for your kind words. I can't tell you how healing it has been to hear how Heather has touched soooo very many lives. What a special gift she had!!!
Nancy T., my sincerest condolences to you and your family. I just heard about Dana the week that we were with Heather. How or why does this happen? Thank you for taking the time to send us your kind words and sharing this quoate with us as it certainly applies "may her memory be for a blessing..." Thank you.

A very good friend of mine sent me the following, which basically reminds us of our temporary visit and, as Heather did, make the best of it at every opportunity...


"I'll lend you for a little while
A child of mine," God said,
"For you to love the while she lives,
And mourn for when she's dead.

It may be six or seven years
Or twenty-two or three;
But will you 'til I call him back,
Take care of her for me?

She'll bring his charms to gladden you
And, should her stay be brief,
You'll have her lovely memories
As a solace for your grief.

I cannot promise she will stay,
Since all from earth return;
But there are lessons taught below
I want this child to learn.

I've looked the whole world over
In search for teachers true;
And from the things that crowd life's land
I have chosen you.

Now, will you give her all your love
Nor think the labor vain?
Nor hate me when I come to take
This lent child back again?

I fancied that I heard them say:
Dear Lord, Thy will be done.
For all the joys Thy child will bring
The risk of grief we'll run.

We'll shelter her with tenderness,
We'll love her while we may –
And for the happiness we've known
Forever grateful stay.
But should Thy Angel call for her
Much sooner than we've planned,
We'll brave the bitter grief that comes
And try to understand."

Thank you all for reaching out!
Ed Montoya

jb said...


I'm so sorry to hear of Heather's passing. Please accept my sincere condolences and pass them to the rest of her family. I'm happy that you got to spend time with her.

A good friend of Heather's told me about this link tonight. He felt vibes and googled her and found this. I'm in somewhat of a state of shock.

I knew her in the early 90's when she lived on Siesta Key. She truely was a wonderful spirit. I don't think I ever saw her in a bad mood. I hadn't seen her since she moved to Puerto Rico.

Please give my deepest regrets to Francesca and her sister Dawn.


JB Hampton

cristyroses said...

I love that all of you were able to find my blog post. Hez was an amazing woman, friend, cousin.

I still have a text on my phone from her sent in December. "Merry Christmas, you beautiful girl!"

Kenny N said...

Cristy, I met Heather in Middle School and we used to walk to and from school each day. She was an AMAZING person and when I saw this blog I really felt my heart sink. She and I would have very fun flirtatious conversations almost every day. I remember she moved and I never really learned where she went until I googled her and saw a video of her in SF. Following up I found you blog, for a short time in my life H and I were thick as theives, I also remember her sister Donna...I am sorry for your loss and I am amazed at how fast things can change....

God Bless,

Kenny N.