I don’t know exactly when it happened but one day, I realized that Holly Port had become one of the women who I just couldn’t live without. And now, suddenly, I must. She could laugh, and cry, and smile, and look you in the eye with the deepest love all at the same time—and then cry some more. I admired her ability to cry easily—because there was nothing fake about her.
Holly and I both made bath and body products and ran in the same circles, so we knew each other, but then our friendship became something more when I moved to Tennessee. We supported each other through publishing books (hers is Make it Fizz), building business empires (hers is Lotion Bar Cafe), finding ways to save money, getting lost in Nashville together, and just day to day losses and celebrations. We could rely on each other. We messaged and texted even when we had nothing to say.
After I moved to Tennessee, we often were speakers at the same events. One time at the Tennessee Soap and Candle Gathering we sat in a corner and poured our hearts out to each other. We cried and we laughed. Our shared experiences and faith bonded us. We laughed a lot together—in fact our entire relationship was filled with laughter.
Holly went from being a stranger, to an acquaintance, to my inner circle in such a natural way. For years we’ve sent back and forth something as simple as a heart emoji, to as deep as our greatest hurts, all peppered with photos of poop sacks that my cat Riley had left for me, quotes that made us think of each other and just the simple message that said hi. I cannot tell you how many times she simply said hi and it was all I needed to lift my heavy heart.
More than a year ago our friend Rachel invited me on a spur of the moment trip to go visit Holly. At that time in my life I couldn’t go—regret. Rachel and I made that trip to see Holly this past weekend. It wasn’t spur of the moment. I felt urgently that we had to go by this past weekend and not a moment later. We went. The urgency was palatable. There was literally no place in the world that I wanted to be other than in that hospital room with Holly.
When Rachel and I visited Holly last week I confessed to Holly that I had a really nasty cut on my leg. I told her the story of how I had cut my leg as I was preparing to go to Bowling Green, Kentucky to watch Caiden dance. I debated: go get stitches or go watch Caiden dance? I chose to go watch Caiden dance. Holly squeezed my hand, nodded her head and quietly said, “We do anything for our kids.” She got my choice. To me, to Holly, supporting our children was everything. We got each other that way.
This week I am reminded:
- Listen to that still small voice.
- Move heaven and earth to take that girl trip.
- Send people encouraging messages even when you don’t know they need one.
- Love abundantly.
- Praise God even in the storm.
- Give your life away.
- Shine the light your loved ones passed onto you.
- Laugh whenever possible.
- Believe, like Holly did, that God has a plan in this suffering.
- Business is nice, but more than anything business is about the relationships we make along the way.
- When you feel helpless find a way to help like supporting the Holly’s Cheerleaders Auction.
- Be a super hero in at least one person’s eyes.
- Take lots of selfies with your friends.
- Celebrate Christmas (and everything else) like Holly Port.
- Reach out to your loved ones even when you have nothing to say. “Hi” is enough.
- Give soul touching hugs away.
A light as bright as Holly’s does not go out simply because she’s moved onto heaven. She passed her light onto each of us who loved her. We must ensure that we live in a way that she can always shine on through all of us.
I simply cannot believe that I have to talk about Holly in the past tense now. But to say rest in peace to Holly would be out of character so instead: my dear Holly, go join the party in heaven and celebrate your new healthy body.