Detroit skyline from Belle Isle Park

In Memoriam: Anastacia Campbell

We lay in the giant bed on our backs, our heads touching, bodies extending out like a large letter A. Our epic Christmas Day adventure inside the abandoned Six Flags in New Orleans had just ended, and we celebrated with too many drinks at the hotel bar. Our love was never anything other than platonic, and it never felt more tangible than it did in that instant. “Thank you for this, Stace. I am never going to forget this.”

Her hand actually left her phone for a second and she gripped my wrist tightly. “Thank you a thousand times over. You don’t know what you saved me from, but just know that I couldn’t be happier than I am right here, right now, and right with you.”

Stacy Campbell and Adam Avitable in New Orleans

Anastacia Lyn Campbell was a dynamic, funny, dark, twisted, brilliant, beautiful soul. Her loss was devastating. I didn’t just lose a friend I originally met on the Internet. She was Jurgen Nation, and Indie Ink, and Cry Laff posts, and Coke Kitty, and Stacy Effing Campbell. She was bigger than life. She was too big for life.

When her family asked me to preside over the funeral service, I was deeply honored and completely terrified. Already feeling the shadow of guilt that I had let her down in some way, I didn’t want this to be a further failure on my part. But I knew I had to do it. For her, for me, for all of us who loved her.

The service was standing room only, filled with mourning family, friends and coworkers, but there was an entire world of people who couldn’t attend. Her family from MamaPop, people whose lives she’d touched, andfriends and strangers alike who felt the same loss we did. I tried my best to include them by setting up my phone to stream the service live on Periscope, which I’ve now embedded here for you. (Since the video was just a video of the ceiling above my podium, I used the audio with a photo slideshow so you don’t have to just stare at the top of my head the whole time.)

Stacy’s death brought me in contact with the other important friends in her life, and it’s bittersweet to have made friends with such amazing people in the wake of such a shattering event. My friendships with Stephanie, Krystyna, and Tom are going to last a lifetime. Not just because Stacy was the tie that binds us, but because her varied and hidden friendships were all puzzle pieces for the same puzzle. We all fit.

I loved Detroit and hated why I was there. I met amazing people, saw a beautiful city, and experienced a few moments of what it was like to be Stacy. I saw the generosity and love of the world when I was in Detroit, and it was overwhelming, awe-inspiring, and humbling. Sometimes, it’s easy to think that everyone is selfish, petty, materialistic, and hateful, but then you see the reactions of most people during a tragedy, and it helps you realize that generally, humanity is pretty fucking amazing.

Thank you to Grant for your help. Thank you to Chrissie and Pat for your amazing hospitality and opening up your home to me as if I was your son. Thank you to Gail and Terry and Jamie and Eric for allowing me to be a part of Stacy’s family without hesitation. Thank you to Racheal for showing amazing strength and character at such a young age. Thank you to my friends for all of the love and support they showed – I got literally hundreds of messages and don’t want to leave anyone out, but you all know who you are. Thank you to Amy for answering the phone even if you thought it might be a butt dial. And thank you to the SFC for making my last night in Detroit a beautiful one.

Detroit as the sun sets

Stacy Effing Campbell's Sick Fucks Club

Stephanie Hume at Belle Isle Park

Adam Avitable and Krystyna Silvi

Anastacia's Sick Fucks Club aka The Big Chill 2015 aka why won't anyone dance with us aka where's the fucking booze? #ripcokekitteh #anastaciacampbell #stacycampbell #effcamms #noweddingsandafuneral

Jameson shots for Stacy Effing Campbell

Finally, if you’ve read this far and you’re interested, I’ve pasted the original version of eulogy I wrote, which varied slightly when it was live:

Stacy would have hated this.

Traditions, rituals, events borne out times past for no reason but the sake of doing something – she didn’t believe in that.

But this isn’t for her. This is for us. This is to remember and cherish the moments we had with someone who burned so brightly that she touched hundreds, if not thousands of people with her spirit.

A eulogy is supposed to be a recap of sorts. A summary of the life of the one we’ve lost. But not this one. Stacy was, is and will always be so much more than facts and dates and jobs and places.

Stacy was a sunrise shining through the leaves, painting the world with a yellow hue.
She was a hidden smile passed between secret lovers sitting across a room.
She was a world teeming with life, living microscopically on the tip of a blade of grass.

There isn’t a person here who doesn’t have a piece of themselves missing right now. Stacy did more than enter our lives. She joined with us in such a way that she became a part of who we were, forever. That hole in our hearts that burns and twists inside us right now may heal with time, but right now it hurts more than anything we can imagine.

Stacy never cared about where we lived, what we did for a living, what mundanities made up our lives. She wanted more. Who are you? What makes you jump for joy? What scares you in the inky blackness of night? What song sends your heart pounding and your adrenaline firing? Why are you who you are?

I never had small talk with Stacy. Like her, my conversations were all bigger than life itself. We made big plans, went on life-changing adventures, and bonded in a way that was special and singular and us, and then she did that with everyone. That’s who she was.

If everyone in the world was going right, Stacy would go left. “Do Not Enter” meant “Don’t Get Caught”. For her, it was all about the experience. Her pain and her darkness were kept at bay when she was harnessing the world, soaking in life, absorbing the beauty surrounding her. She regularly withdrew into herself but always emerged, recharged and burning with her dreams.

Most, if not all, of us knew about Stacy’s bucket list. I saw it like a movie – maybe the greatest movie ever made. Adventure after adventure, elaborate set piece after set piece, and a fantastic soundtrack, and once the movie ended, it would all be over. She made no secret about her desire not to make any more movies once this one was done.

But I thought I had more time before the credits came. I should have known. Of course. I should have known that Stacy would choose to walk out in the middle of the movie. Because that was her way.

I loved Anastacia. I loved her like a soulmate, like a sister, like a friend, like I love myself on those good days. We talked about hunting ghosts in the fall, packing our lives up and moving to Australia when we were 40, exploring the catacombs in France, and a thousand other adventures on the horizon. She wasn’t just a person, or a friend, or someone I loved. She was a spectre of fantasy, the spirit of excitement, and the embodiment of living life as if each day will truly be your last.

I know that I said this was for us, not for her. But now I want to talk to Stacy directly, and I think I’ll be saying something that will resonate with many of us:

Stacy, I was overwhelmed with rage when I heard the news. I’ve never been angrier at anyone as I was at you on Wednesday night. You are so loved and appreciated by so many people, and I wonder if you only knew, would that have changed things? If you could read all the amazing words written by the people who you inspired, could that have kept the darkness from winning?

Of course not. You’re Anastacia Effing Campbell.

You were in control. You walk where paths have not existed, you drift through dreams ethereally, and you will live on inside each of us forever.

The one thing that you lacked – the hole that could not be filled – was peace. You moved constantly upwards and onwards to quell that missing aspect of your soul. And now, after all of these years, after all the pain, I hope that you are truly, finally at peace.

We love you, Stacy Campbell. You are important, and we will celebrate you in ways that you would be proud. We will take the roads untraveled, climb the barricades in our way, observe and truly notice the beauty that surrounds us, and appreciate the gifts we have. We will live in ways that scare us and push us and challenge us, and we will do it for you.

And finally, if you’ve read this far, I’ll share one last image. One that, above all else, represents Stacy. She was dark and twisted and evil and hilarious and amazing and wonderful, all bundled into one stunningly beautiful package, and her sense of humor had a morbidity and a darkness that rivaled my own. That’s why I know I can post this here and say with complete certainty that not only would she have loved this and laughed until she peed, she would have expected nothing less from me or anyone who loved her and knew her as well as her closest friends did:

Irony and Stacy Campbell

I love you, Stacy. Even in death, you provided me with an adventure and new people to love. You will always be missed.

13 thoughts on “In Memoriam: Anastacia Campbell”

  1. gawd…adam, i’ve never met you but have cyber-stalked you for years. in the past week i’ve gone through my emails/texts/im’s and there are a few between SFC while y’all were in NOLA a year or two back. i sent you my love and admiration and both are reaffirmed by this lovely, fitting, horrible, tribute. i always hoped to move beyond the “fly on the wall” place and accompany y’all on an adventure… sending you wry, dry, cry-bits from San Francisco.

  2. Amid all of this heartbreak, I’m comforted to know how many people loved this girl as I did, and that I’m not alone in my sadness, in the unavoidable maelstrom of guilt and what-ifs, or even my anger. I wish she knew how loved she was when she was here, or that knowing would have made a difference. And I hope she feels that love now, all at once and at every moment forever, because there is definitely enough of it to sustain. I know she can fly on that wind forever.

    Thank you, Adam.

  3. I am always going to miss her. Always. It seems unfathomable there will be a single day when I don’t. But your words, and your photos, and all the words gifted as stunning tributes to this stunning soul we were all so damn lucky and overwhelmingly blessed to know for the time we did have made this even a fraction more bearable, and for that I am so thankful. I loved what you wrote, and what you said, about never having made small talk with her. That’s so true, and so effing beautiful. Not an ounce of small talk with that gorgeous heart. Not from the very beginning. What a gift she was to all of us, to this earth. Peace and kindness to you, Adam. Thank you for all of this, and for keeping us all so included and connected in remembering and celebrating her.

  4. I listened and listened to your eulogy. Albeit it, the damn thing timed out so many times….. I can now recite the beginning by heart. I still can’t form the perfect words for the most haunting friend. Thank you for everything. I can’t quite encompass what the thank you entails but just, thank you.

  5. Wow. I am shocked to read this. Something made me think of her recently after years and years of having no contact with her or her writing, and this is what I found. I worked with her on IndieInk way back when. I’m stunned. I loved her writing and her photography and her wit. My heart goes out to her family and friends, to all of you.

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