UPDATE 12/8/2014: We're sad to report that yesterday Stella Young passed away peacefully in her sleep at the age of 32. In a letter she wrote to herself, imagining her life at 80 years old, she said:
"By the time I get to [80 years old] I'll have written things that change the way people think about disability. I'll have been part of a strong, beautiful, proud movement of disabled people in Australia. I'll have said and written things that pissed people off, disabled and non-disabled people. You will never, ever stop challenging the things you think are unfair.
You will write some fiction, in which the central character is a disabled teenage girl. Because f--- knows that wasn't around when you were growing up and desperately searching for characters you could truly relate to. Somebody might, at some point, call you the crip incarnation of Judy Blume. Who knows?
By the time I get to you, I'll be so proud. The late Laura Hershey once wrote about disability pride, and how hard it is to achieve in a world that teaches us shame. She said, 'You get proud by practising'. Thanks to my family, my friends, my crip comrades and my community, I'm already really proud. But I promise to keep practising, every day.
Listen, Stell. I can't tell you for certain that you and I will ever meet. Perhaps that thing I always say flippantly, usually with a third glass of wine in my hand – that I'm here for a good time not a long time – perhaps that's true.But on my path to reach you, I promise to grab every opportunity with both hands, to say yes as often as I can, to take risks, to scare myself stupid, and to have a shitload of fun."
She may not have reached 80, but in her 32 years she certainly made a difference in the lives of so many people.