We will miss your fire

Heidi Kriz, 1965-2012

A memorial service for Heidi Kriz will be held Wednesday, June 13, at 2 p.m. at St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church, 1001 Olson Lane in El Dorado Hills.

A bottle of Chanel No. 19 perfume sits askew in a wicker basket in my bathroom—a thank-you gift from her to me, from her personal collection. “It’s wonderful,” she said at the time, blowing by my protestations that I don’t wear perfume. “It’s what I always ask for as gifts. You’ll love it.”

I had to laugh at the time; it was vintage Heidi Kriz—the longtime Sacramentan I came to know as a neighbor, fellow journalist and friend over the last three years. Supremely confident, sure of her own beliefs and sure you’d come around to her views, too, if you’d just listen to her long enough.

The news of Heidi’s death on May 6, rocked me. Heidi? Dead? But she was here, all around me. She had just phoned me May 2, but hadn’t left a message. I had made a mental note to call her back, but had not yet done so. Now, of course, it was too late.

Gone at 46. Her mother said Heidi “just didn’t wake up” Sunday morning. An autopsy was done, but the coroner’s office said it could be eight weeks before it determines cause of death.

Here’s the Heidi Kriz I knew: defiantly independent, keenly intelligent, sharp-tongued, fun-loving and funny, sometimes maddening, and extremely generous. She was a Law & Order TV junkie, a Rachel Maddow devotee, and, of course, would watch Christiane Amanpour from wherever she was reporting.

She was devoted to her cat, Molly.

Learning of Heidi’s death, her friend, Chris Hoover, wrote: “Every interaction with Heidi was either a charm or a challenge, usually both. She refused the cliché, the easy answer and always looked a little deeper. I learned from her and feel the loss deeply.”

It is a sentiment echoed by many who knew Heidi over the years, in addition to her reputation for being “extremely thoughtful and kind”—known to surprise her friends with the “perfect” gift, chosen especially for them.

Ours was not always an easy association; we could both be stubborn and oftentimes butted heads. But we’d soon make up, and she’d come over to snip some roses from our garden, or invite my brother and I to have dinner with her, and all would be well.

An independent journalist with a long list of credits, including The Village Voice, Wired, The Observer (London), and SN&R among others, Heidi often put herself in harm’s way to get close to her subjects, say those who knew her work.

In the last several years of her life, she was forced, following a near-fatal car accident in 2006, to tend to both physical and emotional wounds over a sustained period of time. According to Heidi, she did much of this difficult work in private, having not yet tackled that most troublesome of areas: pride.

I have a delicate, Wedgwood china ashtray that Heidi gave to me shortly before moving out of our Oak Park neighborhood. It was her grandmother’s. It is too pretty to use, but reminds me of Heidi’s softer side and of the times we’d sit discussing life and journalism.

Rest in peace, Heidi. We will miss your fire.