Last week, we lost one of the shining lights of the Hearthstone community and the Twittersphere in Carling “ToasttheBadger” Filewich, who tragically took her own life after an extended period of suffering. As a sign of respect to our friend, all UHL activities were suspended for a week, and Week #2’s Weekly Recap article had to be shelved, due to there being no reasonable way to include Toast’s own UHL match without glossing over this terrible event. Instead, I asked all of the members of UHL, whether they be player, caster, or content creator, to write something about what Toast meant to them, to pay fitting tribute to an incredible woman whose words and presence touched and inspired so many of us.
“The things that we go through in life that leave a mark on us, both positive and negative, have a lasting impact on us. Every fond moment, every heartbreak, every joy, and every trauma are not points on a line that is our existence; they're objects that we carry with us forever. And while we can shift the weight of those objects, their burden can sometimes still feel like too much to bear. Carling touched so many people in positive, supportive ways, while shouldering the weight of everything that she carried. I would ask that in remembrance of her we all take time to help each other, support one another, and continue to be the positive influence we wish to see in our homes, our families, and our communities. We humans are complicated, messy beings; it's what makes us unique, what makes us frustrating, and what ultimately makes all of us worthy of love and dignity. The next time you share that with someone else, please do not ever forget that you deserve it too.”
-Chris “CMPlummer” Plummer, United Conference
“Toast taught me to never let my anger consume me, to let my positivity be the beacon of light in times of darkness and to show others the way; to find out how to be the best influence you can be in other people's lives, as everyone needs someone to lean on eventually. She thought I was a good person, and I thought the same of her, if not more. She was truly unique, and she will be missed.”
-Mike “MLStreams” Lowe, United Conference
“I recently met Toastthebadger after becoming associated with the United Hearthstone League; I had first encountered Toast from her #BadassWomenOfHearthstone movement on Twitter, and her interview on the Tier5 podcast. Toast and I had limited interaction, as we were in separate conferences, but I did want to share something that happened about a week ago.
Toast sent me a DM on Discord out of the blue, just to say that she liked the work I had done for the artwork for UHL. It was completely unexpected, and it really made my day. This small act of kindness meant more than she could ever know, and I think that this is one small example of the person toast was. This wasn’t a message for the world to see posted on social media, it was a message sent to me personally with no other motivation than to be uplifting, and that’s how I’ll always remember her.
Toast, if you’re up there somewhere reading this, please know that you were an inspiration to the Hearthstone Community, your positivity and kindness were truly extraordinary, and you will be forever remembered as the original and most Badass Woman of Hearthstone.
Thank you for reading this.”
-Nate Wolfe, United Conference
“The sheer volume of positive community interaction revolving around the loss of ToastTheBadger in the past week is pretty incredible. The direst situations sometimes bring out the best in people, and in retrospect I think that’s what we can say about Toast herself. Every day, she was suffering with issues beyond our awareness and comprehension, but this woman was a relentless source of positivity, prompted or otherwise. Toast went out of her way to recognize those who gave more than they took, those who spent hours of effort to make others happy, and those who stood up for what they believed was right. We are lucky to have called her our friend, a peer in our community, and a member of our league.”
-Ben “RidiculousHat” Goodman, United Conference
“To say that I knew Toast in any real capacity would be embellishing the facts. I actually had virtually no interaction with her, but that doesn't mean that she didn't impact me. WIth that being said, I can say that I was excited when it was announced that she would be participating in UHL, so that I could hopefully get to know her. I listened to her on Tier 5 and followed the #BAWoHS movement hoping that she could find a way to unite the female gamers under one banner and that they would carve a place in video game history. As the father of a daughter who identifies as a gamer, I had been hoping that someone like Toast would come along. I wanted someone with swagger and confidence that stemmed from hard work and persistence, someone that my daughter could look up to and say to herself "She did it through grit, determination, and hard work. I can do that too." I am saddened that I won't get the chance to get to know Toast, but I hold out hope that the women whose lives she touched won't let that fire and passion pass with her.”
-Alex “Virsica” Franklin, United Conference
“My limited interactions with Toastthebadger, both personally and through listening to her guest appearances, proved that she was a woman who was a determined fighter. She saw things not as they are but as they should be. Since learning about her deep struggles with physical and mental pain, it's amazing to me that she was able to do that at all, let alone in such a way that inspired an entire community.
To me, it's a stark reminder that the vices, ailments, and demons that we all deal with are no excuse for keeping our lives from being recklessly for others. Do the hard work. Fight what holds you back. Most importantly, get the help and support you need from friends, family, or professionals. I really believe that even on her worst days, Toast knew her life mattered. Whatever combination of chemicals that were off in her brain and unbearable physical pain she was going through led her to a decision we all mourn because we know how much joy her life brought to others and how much more joy she had left to give. On days when you feel hopeless and worthless, you still have something to offer to this world. Your life does matter. And things don't have to stay this way forever.
We will always remember the spirit Toast brought to our corner of the Hearthstone world, and to honor her life, we will continue to fight for what should be in our communities.”
-Andrew “AndrewisLiving” Brown, Community Conference
“I got the honor to play against Toast in the UHL league; It was super fun, and she ended up reverse sweeping me. Afterwards, we all had an interview and talking to her was honestly lots of fun, and she was such an amazing person. She truly did bring so much enthusiasm and pride to the Hearthstone community. Words cannot describe this tragedy but she will forever have an impact on so many people's lives including mine. My condolences to her family and friends, rest peacefully. #Toast4Toast”
-Austin “Breezy” Stamegna, Community Conference
“Come on in, the fire’s warm,
Yes you, of course even you.
All are welcome in my Inn,
Who am I? WHO AM I?!
I am Toast... the badger if you must know.
Now come, relax by my fire, I know it’s been cold.
Hey you! GET THE FUCK OUT!
Sorry, he’s been harassing my inn,
But don’t worry, I’ll take care of them.
Relax, you’re safe here,
I know you’ve got dreams, of course you do,
So go on, chase them, it’s up to you.
I’ll be at your side the whole way,
You’re a badass woman, I got your back everyday.
The fire has cooled, it’s quiet now,
The innkeeper has left… but isn’t gone,
You can feel your heart, but still it’s lonely,
“Raise a glass” someone shouts from the back,
A chorus of a thousand glasses chant,
“A Toast… for Toast!”
A twinkle in each one’s eye,
With a nod and a wink we all know the truth,
She isn’t gone… she’s just in a different inn,
Looking down on all of us, hoping we win.”
-Daniel “Stormraige23” Shelden, Community Conference
“Toast the Badger, to me, embodied everything positive about our gaming culture. She was a vocal champion of progress, equality, and justice in the esports scene, and I’m grateful to have even interacted with her once. I looked up to her ever since I heard her story initially on Around the Hearth, and subsequently on Tier 5. The #badasswomenofhearthstone is one of the coolest twitter movements, and she will live on through its continued ideals. When we faced each other the first week of UHL, I think she could tell I was nervous and looking to just have a good time rather than take it seriously and super competitive. She gladly agreed to Skype call with me while we played, and so we chatted and laughed at the wacky stuff that happened. She brought the heat, and I’m honored to lose to her game 5 Shudderwock lethal. I’m also honored to have (while only briefly) interacted with this amazing woman, and I’ll make sure to do my part to help make her vision a reality. Thank you Toast.”
-Jordan Lingo, Community Conference
“I am grieving. I also am fine. It's hard to explain how I feel about the events surrounding Toast's passing; I am discouraged nonetheless since there was a loss of human life. The pain suffered cannot be overstated nor the effect it had on Toast. Still, I don't know how to respond to this. The real feeling I have is that ending a life is rarely the answer, but your own life being ended by your own hand is never the answer. Toast was known for her fierce attitude and strong spirit, making the way it ended more painful. I am stuck in a hard place. I didn't know Toast as well as I would have liked but I do know that she cared about the community and would have never wanted for someone to end their own life. In honor of Toast please speak up if you are in pain, and also know that death isn't the answer.”
-Calvin “RedKnight” Horne, Community Conference
“The last seven days have been an extremely difficult, trying time in my life. As many of you know, we lost a beacon in our community last Sunday, Toast the Badger. A true community pillar, Toast meant a lot of things to a lot of people. To me, she was a friend, and an extremely close one at that. My tears have been many over the last week, and I’m sure there will be more to come. So, when rebobson came to me asking for a short paragraph about my memories and experiences with Toast, I warned him that a paragraph probably wasn’t going to be enough; I don’t know how long this is going to go.
Toast the Badger came into my world sometime towards the end of 2017. Growing a Hearthstone podcast and being active in social media, you tend to grow your circles. Toast was originally a sassy Twitter follow who made me laugh or made a good point, so I decided to go and shoot her a follow. This decision truly made a difference in my life that I could never have guessed it would, and I can’t imagine being where I am without knowing the person she was, regardless of the pain and the tears I’m experiencing at the moment.
Earlier this year, Toast began her #BadassWomenOfHearthstone movement. I had interacted with her small amounts at that point, shooting her replies to her tweets and liking her points. When she started the movement though, she shot off at the end of her tweets that she would talk about this anywhere. I knew, right there and then, I had to have Toast the Badger on Tier 5. I shot her a tweet, we discussed it in dms, and eventually, she was booked to come on Tier 5 not long after that.
We interacted a decent amount leading up to her appearance on the podcast. She was extremely happy that she could come on the podcast and swear her little butt off; You may not know this, but I tend to say four letter words more than most. Toast had been on rebobson’s podcast, Around the Hearth, and told me she had to have a sticky note on her monitor to remind her not to swear. This made me laugh really hard because this is the type of the thing I have to do often. When I wander out of my safe space of Tier 5, I often have to restrict my bad words. Toast, like myself, enjoyed adding flavor to her talk.
The night came where Toast was on the podcast; the podcast itself went extremely well, Toast was her usually charming, funny self. She had messages that were meaningful, a voice that you had to listen to, and a message about improving our community for not just the women in it, but for everyone involved. Without missing a beat, Toast started giving me shit about one thing or another, taking advantage of me putting my foot in my mouth about something. But the way Toast did this, the way she was lighthearted and open, even when talking about the heaviest of subjects, made me know I was meant to be friends with this person. I still say that her episode was the most important thing I’ve ever done, but I’ve started to wonder if our #ToastForToast will ultimately be more impactful.
Recording this podcast with Toast, it formed a bond. We often dmed after this, talking about our problems. Toast was often so busy taking care of others that she never took care of herself. I always made sure that I was there to listen to her, because she needed the ear more than most. You cannot hold the grief and frustration with the world inside without it eating you up, and I tried to be that for Toast. I tried going through our dms to find some funny moments, but there were too many and the thread has made me cry more than once in the last week.
I do not want everyone reading this to be under the impression that I only listened to Toast, because she often listened to my many problems and guided me. Because of Toast, I have begun to go to counseling. She was not the only voice suggesting this route for me, but she was the one that finally got the idea across as something I truly needed to do. Counseling has helped me a huge amount, even in only going for a short amount of time. Without Toast, I don’t know if I would have started the process.
I’ve gone way more than a paragraph here, but this is only a start of the words on my tongue. I’ve talked about the impact Toast had on me in my podcast, Tier 5. I’ve gone on Blizzlet and talked about it there. I want everyone to know we’ve lost a truly special person, and with everyone who’s grieving, I grieve alongside you. Toast was an amazing, funny, smart, resilient, tough and fierce individual. She encouraged others to spread their wings and fly, and she did the same to me. I don’t think the true impact she left on this world will ever be known, but I know the impact she left on me. Thank you Toast for shining your light on me and this community, and thank you for being my friend. You are gone but will never be forgotten.”
-Rod Johnston, Community Conference
"While I didn’t know Toast personally, I feel like I got to know her a good bit over my interactions with her via Discord and Twitter, and through UHL. She was a very bright spirit, and seemed to strive to make everyone happy and cheerful. She was an empowered woman and didn’t take any crap from anyone, and served as a real beacon for women trying to enter the Hearthstone space. My last personal interaction with her was casting her UHL match and conducting her post-game interview along with Cinder. Cheerful as always, it was refreshing hearing her strategies and reasonings behind what she brought and why. The last Twitter interaction we had was her retweeting me, and congratulating me on winning the Brotherly Brawl 5k and her last action on Twitter was liking TaylorEve’s picture of us out celebrating with a victory dinner. I think that just goes to show exactly the kind of person Toast was: Always looking outward and celebrating her friends before herself. I’m glad she got some joy out of that before she went and I hope it made her smile. Toast will be missed."
-Jeff “Appa” Clark, UHL Caster
“When I first decided to try creating community content for Hearthstone, I wanted my newly public persona to be "safe": no politics, no social commentary, just stick to Hearthstone. Not long into my foray, the TerrencM/Dreamhack/Twitch chat thing went down (long story short: a black man appeared on stream and Twitch chat lost its damn mind). I listened to a number of other podcasters and streamers talk about it but then there was Toast, who true to her name was an absolute honey badger about it, relentlessly going after Dreamhack, Twitch, and the underbelly of the HS community alike despite constant harassment and trolling. This was my first exposure to Toast, a fierce woman throwing her body on the gears of the machine to expose the injustice for the betterment of the community. She inspired me to have the courage to use what little voice I had as a content creator to speak out for what is just and not be afraid to stand for my beliefs in the face of public scrutiny. Over the next two years we would become friends, having quiet moments of weakness in DMs and confiding in one another when the outside world was just a bit too much to handle. The respect and admiration I have for Carling can never be overstated. Her departure is not a loss; her light and her strength are still here.”
-Jase “CinderAscendant” Nolan, UHL Caster
“I first came to know of Toastthebadger back when I was doing a general gaming podcast and we covered the incident with racism in Twitch Chat at Dreamhack Austin. Even back then, from afar, I admired her courage in speaking up and doing what was right, despite the fact that doing so inevitably was going to paint a target on her, being a woman challenging toxicity in games. Little did I know, that was probably like a normal Tuesday for her given what she was going through. I only got to know Carling personally over the last few months, and even then mostly from hanging out in her stream or casting one of her matches in UHL. Even though she was clearly suffering greatly, you'd never know it from her demeanor or the way she'd continually stay positive or witty, and always was trying to help others even up until the very end. I'm only sorry I didn't get to know her sooner, but I'm glad that I did get to know her even for a short time, and I think our community is all the better for getting to have her as part of it for the short time that we did.”
-Steve “WickedGood” Lubitz, UHL Caster
“I only knew Toast from Twitter and from hearing her on various Hearthstone podcasts, but the United Hearthstone League is what brought us all together. Because of UHL she became like family to me and to all of us really. It was tough to hear of her passing and it threw me for a loop. I'm proud that the UHL is taking charge and organizing charity streams and a few other things to remember her life and the impact she had on us all. I just ask everyone reading this to check in on family and friends to encourage them. Life is precious and never take it for granted.”
-Robert “Navillus” Sullivan, UHL Content Creator
“I did not know Toast for very long, only a few months, but she personally made a lasting impact on my Hearthstone journey. She was one of the most outspoken members of the community in the best way possible, bringing attention to an often ignored wing of the community. To say she will be missed is a massive understatement and doesn’t do justice to her contributions to Hearthstone. I know there are people out there, especially women, who would not be where they are without her influence. We will all do better to keep accomplishing what you started. Thank you Toast.”
-Nick “RedWaller55” Patrick, UHL Content Creator
“I knew Toast through the #badasswomenofhearthstone and her steams when i was able to catch them. She inspired a lot of people to continue on with video games, and she cared for a lot of people. I did my first article for UHL with Toast as a focal point, and it is not going to be the same without the original badass woman of Hearthstone.”
-Yukistorm, UHL Content Creator
As for myself, like Rod mentioned in his beautiful ode to Toast, Toast came onto my own podcast, Around the Hearth, earlier on this year. I had encountered Toast on Twitter sharing her experiences as a woman in esports, and immediately felt inspired by this person’s openness and bravery in talking about a difficult topic that I feel very strongly about, and wanted to use my position as a content creator to raise some awareness about. I could not have predicted how much impact Toast’s appearance on the show would have had on me; while interviewing her I spent the entirety fighting back the tears as I watched someone fighting through the immense, obvious pain they were in, all so others who have been through what she has would feel some solace and solidarity, and perhaps some comfort that they were not alone. Toast defined the idea of giving; her mind and inbox was always open if you needed someone to talk to, and she taught me more than anyone the sheer power and value of kind words alone. The day after she appeared on our show was the day that Toast created her #badasswomenofhearthstone hashtag, creating a beautiful resource and community in the process; while this had no doubt been a seed planted in Toast’s mind for some time, in my grief and sadness I allow myself a small amount of pride and comfort that I may have helped this idea take its final steps towards fruition. This hashtag, the welcoming community she has fostered, and the manner in which she has brought together all the people in this article and the wider community in combined sadness and mourning, but also pride, respect and fondness, ensure that while Toast may be gone from this world, her memory and legacy will live on, and she will certainly not be forgotten.
Her passing has had a huge impact on me personally; it has inspired me to take a deep look at my own mental health, and to realise that I was suffering from depressing myself, and needed to take steps to look after myself, help myself recover and feel good about myself as well as my own life. This is a realisation I am not sure I would have had until much later without such a horrible shock to the system. It seems like the most Toast response to such a terrible tragedy is to take some positives and make life better for someone else, so I implore you all reading this, to know that any and all of us will be open and welcoming should you need someone to talk to, a kind word or a shoulder to cry on, or simply someone to stay awhile and listen.
Toast’s last wish was typically altruistic, and she has asked that instead of donations towards the funeral, anyone wishing to contribute should instead donate some money to Changing Together, a nonprofit organisation dedicated to helping immigrant women integrate into Canadian society, an issue very dear to Toast’s heart. Thank you all so much for taking the time to read this tribute to a true inspiration.
-Francis “rebobson” Robson, UHL Content Creator