Hi, everyone. Mary Jo here. There have been requests for me to add to Heather’s blog what I said at her Celebration of Life. The issue is: I have no idea how to do that. I’m giving it a go anyway, but please excuse if it’s all messed up. I’m even trying to add photos like she would have done, but alas, only 1 techie person per relationship is allowed. Anyway, here goes:
Heather and I talked off and on about me being a “guest blogger” and sharing some stories from the caregiver perspective. I’m not a writer, though, and I processed my feelings during one-on-one moments I had with friends. So, my blog post never happened.
Instead, I have decided to write Heather’s last blog post for her. Here are the things I think she would want you to know and remember:
You don’t have to be a perfect example to be an inspiration: Don’t let your fear about not doing something perfectly stop you from inspiring others through your actions. Heather inspired SO MANY people with her blog. Yet she also had SO MANY struggles living up to the exact things she wrote about in her blog. But that doesn’t make her any less of an inspiration. Of the many Facebook quotes that have touched me recently was one that said, “A thing doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.” How true is that?! “A thing doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.” So, go: continue to be beautiful. Continue to be an inspiration. Heather did.
Work on yourself: Heather was very good at admitting her mistakes. She was constantly trying to improve herself. Whatever that thing is for you that you’ve been wanting to improve – exercising more, eating healthier, being more patient with your family, quitting smoking, living in the moment – whatever it is; do it! Do it a little bit at a time and before you know it, it’ll be your habit. Have grace and empathy for yourself when you don’t always get it “right” (whatever that means), but keep moving forward, even if it’s with the babiest of steps you can manage.
People before things: Heather had a magnetic personality. She loved people and people loved her. She was always good for a beer after work or a story over dinner. She loved helping people and often over-committed herself, but the minute someone in her circle needed something, she was quick to offer it if she could. During her last days, she was making lists of people she wanted to send money to for various causes or “because she’s a single mom and could really use the help.” Such a great, big, giving heart she had. Remember her when someone in your life needs an extra boost. Remember her when the things in your life start to define you more than the relationships in your life do.
When given the choice – and you’re pretty much always given the choice – choose life: You would think that being diagnosed with incurable, terminal cancer would take away that choice. How can you choose life when you’re being told that you’re going to die? Well, Heather did. We all know about her amazing trips and adventures the last few years, but I’m not only talking about the adrenaline-pumping kind of living. I’m talking about the harder stuff, too. After her diagnosis, Heather chose life by forgiving people who had hurt her and she ended up really growing from that experience. She chose life by normalizing cancer and her journey through the ways she opened up and shared with people. So, I know she would say to us: “Choose life, dammit. Choose it while you can. Choose it every day and in every way. Do those things that are life-affirming for you. Share that life with those around you so you can live more fully together. If something doesn’t bring you joy, don’t do it. Not because life is too short – even though it is – but because life is life and it must be LIVED.”