Honoring Stori’s Sweet Life

My Walker’s roommate and dear friend Nancy drove up to Boston yesterday to go on this journey of farewell to Stori with me. We were all part of the same pack at Walkers. At an all girls boarding school you needed to have those closest friends who would always be there for you as you managed those hormonal years.

This morning we drove out to Essex for the celebration of Stori’s life. Stori’s daughter Sam messaged me that I was going to be the first of the five speakers at the service. Thankfully Nancy and I arrived early at the Essex Country Club so I got a chance to spend a few minutes with Stori’s husband John, Sam and Stori’s sister Lilea, brother’s Jeff and Pel and Mom Diecy before the throngs of Stori lovers came pouring in.

There was a display by the door of some needlepoint bricks and balls of yarn and knitting needles that brought my first tear. I took a photo of it but then felt it needed to have Stori in the picture. I couldn’t bring myself to take another picture since she was not there to make a funny face.

God gave us a perfect day. Blue sky, just turning leaves, a crisp feeling in the air. Perfect, except for one thing. Stori was missing from the biggest party, with all the people she loved. There were many photos scattered around of Sam, Stori and John. I kept thinking she was going to pop out from the room that was set up for bridge and introduce me to a bartender she was friends with.

Sam had told me she wanted the remarks to begin at 12:30, but there was still a line of a hundred people just waiting to get in the club and then sign the guest book. In my regular bossy way, I told the queue to not to wait to sign the book, but to go on in and sign the book later.

It was time for me to give my remarks. I had written a remembrance of Stori, but since I was first I had to get everyone’s attention and thank them all for coming on behalf of the family. To most of them I was a stranger, but we all had the common bond of our love for Stori.

I spoke from my heart, veering of my script often as Stori’s spirit moved me. After me Lilea spoke and seeing her, with the very Stockwell facial features, I was overcome with the feeling Stori was with us. Two more friends, Cammi and Kennon colored in the portrait of Stori we all knew and loved. Lastly, Sam bravely paid tribute to her sweet mother. There was laughter and heart break.

All the while John stood by thanking everyone for coming.

After all the speeches were made the celebration continued with food and wine and the reconnecting of old friends and the meeting of people who had only heard of each other through Stori. A cute older couple introduced themselves to me. He asked me if I hired out to speak at funerals and wanted to know how much I would charge to talk at his. I told him that I needed to know him and love him for 45 years like I did Stori.

I got to see Elliott Buck and her clan and Henrietta Change Mei who came up from Lexington and generously gave me a ride back to my hotel. So many Walkers friends sent messages that they wish they could come, but weddings and moving parents into retirement homes got in the way.

It was a celebration Stori would have loved. I am including my remarks as they were written, but without the heartfelt ad libs that the spirit moved me to say.

Stori Stockwell Cadigan is well loved. We all were witness to her short but impactful life that ended too abruptly. She would want to us to go on and be kind to others, as she always had been. She would want us to not take ourselves too seriously and love one another. And so I shall.

Losing Stori

I have known Stori since the fall of 1977. That means all of our grown up and almost grown up years, although I would say Stori fought growing up better than anyone I knew.

We went to a boarding school called Ethel Walkers together. Stori came to Walkers as a junior, one of three new girls in our tight class of 88. She broke into the class with her big smile, laser focus of paying attention to whomever was speaking with and her silliness.

As I look back at photos of Stori through the years she is always the one making a face, sticking her tongue out or making bunny ears behind the person next to her. She never tried to make herself look beautiful in the photo, giving her best side or pushing towards the front. She never really knew how beautiful she was.

Stori was someone who kept her light under a bushel.  At Walkers she was a great sports woman, but she never told you that she saved the game by stopping the ball with her face.  She was a great student, but no one would have thought to vote for her for top of the class because she never tried to out shine anyone else.  She was a great artist, but she didn’t display her work or look for accolades. She wasn’t the head of a club, but was a diligent Lieutenant, always there for support with great ideas she would whisper in your ear.  She never demanded credit or the lime light.

There was one particular day in December of our senior year that I remember as the big days Stori burst out like a rocket. We used to have a morning break in our classes between second and third period called “milk lunch.” Tiny cups of milk and trays of cookies were placed in the basement of our school, near our mailboxes. Practically all of the girls would come by the tables grab a cookie, check in with their friends and and look to see if they were blessed with a letter in their mailbox or even better a package.

This day Stori reached into her mailbox to find a letter from Bowdoin announcing her early acceptance. Stori screamed in delight and clutching the letter, ran upstairs to let the college counselor, who had told her she had no chance of getting into Bowdoin, how wrong she was. Word spread quickly through the crowd that Stori had gotten into Bowdoin. It was quite a coup. Some were surprised, I was not.

Stori was always more capable than people imagined. She was more capable than she imagined. She could play any sport, out ski you, out ride you, out score you, but she never told you she could. Then, when she did she never mentioned your loss or her win.

Stori had nine lives. Over coming heath scares that would have crippled a lesser person. So when I first learned of her accident I prayed, please let Stori have one more life in that bag.

What I can’t believe is that now all those memories we would reminisce about at reunions are going to not include her special point of view. All the needlepoint and knitting she knew how to do won’t get done with her special artistic way. All the people she taught art to won’t get to learn from her and have their lived enriched by her knowledge, skill and eye.

I am sad that John won’t have Stori to be a steadfast partner and mate. I am sad for Stori’s family who won’t have her at holidays. I am sad for her friends who she was intensely loyal to, won’t have her checking in on you, commenting on our Facebook postings. I am sad she didn’t get to vote, for she was staunchly for fairness.

I am mostly sad for Sam who did not get to have a long enough time as a grown women to know her mother who loved her so strongly in the best way she could.

I hope that we can always remember Stori and the light she brought into the world, the light she focused on each person she met,the light she never knew that shone all around her, the light that no bushel could ever hide








6 Comments on “Honoring Stori’s Sweet Life”

  1. Susan Ketch says:

    Your words are both powerful and gentle. Such generous and compassionate feelings that you shared make us all want to reflect on how we, too, might become more like Stori. I am praying you find comfort in your memories and so many friends that love you😘

  2. Sarah Carter Stevens says:

    I love this, Dana. Stori was unforgettable…I haven’t seen her since I was 7 and I remember her keenly. What a beautiful person. I’m so sad and have thought about this loss everyday since I heard. My prayers go out to her family and friends as her absence will be so painful.

  3. Jennifer Hermann says:

    Wonderful remembrance of a good friend. Who told Stori she couldn’t get into Bowdoin? We should all have people in our lives who speak of us with such love and grace. May she Rest In Peace.

  4. Carol Walker says:

    Beautiful!!!! I am so sorry for your loss! Remember the good times always!


  5. dee7064 says:

    I’m so sorry about Stori, Dana. But what a loving tribute to your dear friend that only a long-time soulmate of hers could tell. Your words were perfect. She would have been so pleased, I’m sure. Yes, old friends are just the best. D

    Diane Wade – Sent from my iPhone


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