I met Heather 17 years ago when we began a deep and meaningful journey in friendship together. She was older and in so many ways wiser for having had the vicissitudes of life’s experiences. We shared much joy in travel, get-togethers, deep discussions, and adventures.
As she was dying of cancer one year ago, I asked myself over and over again why I could not have her for 20 or more years. Why could I not have this dear friend to help me through my own life challenges as she had for the previous 17 years? With that question came the answer. I was to carry within me the best lesson I learned from Heather during our time together. What emerged from here was the one question she brought to me, over and over again, no matter what I was facing. If it was a parenting issue, a work challenge, marital growth or any other circumstance, she always asked me the same question after I had vented verbally and emotionally; What is your part?
This question has literally pulled me through every single challenge I have faced over the years. I am able to look at every challenge as an opportunity to learn about myself and to grow in ways that I could not otherwise grow without the challenge in front of me. If it’s illness I am facing, I can now embrace it, no matter how detrimental it feels at the time, as I ask, what is my part in relation to this? What is the lesson I must learn in order to move past the illness and into a greater form of my authentic self? It may be my illness or the illness of someone I love but either way, I embrace it. As difficult as this may be at the time, I am able to see illness with a greater purpose and not as an intruder or an enemy in my life.
When I am faced with difficult people, I again ask, what is my part? I can now quickly shift out of blame or anger to see what I need to do or change within myself. I see all people as teachers now and the most difficult ones are the greatest teachers of all. I grow and change and become more of who I am meant to be through these people. Without them I would never learn how to love myself better, how to forgive, how to have deep compassion, or the millions of other lessons I have learned and have yet to learn.
So my dear friend, Heather Higgins, I think of you every day and carry within me the joy we shared and the greatest lesson you have taught me. Your wisdom and your love continue on in the physical world through me and through the challenges I face. With each new morning I meditate, journal, and pray and ask of each new day ahead: What is my part?