I had shocking news of a dear friends death and this question that has been with me now for months came to the forefront in a deep and frankly painful way. I have known my friend Kate for over 20 years. We worked together at my first Yoga studio and even though she was quite a few years younger than myself her and I shared a special bond. Through the earlier years of motherhood for us both we were very close and we offered one another a connection to our yoga roots even though being wives and mothers had taken over the main roles in our lives.
Several years ago she moved away from Arizona however we still stayed connected and would do our best to see one another when she was in town. She was an absolutely beautiful person and held presence in a special way. I will admit if it hadn’t been for her persistence in staying connected I’m not sure I would have done a very good job as it it is not one of my strengths. She was a good friend and saw the value in deep rooted friendships.
When I opened Facebook this week I was stunned to see a post by her husband that she had passed peacefully in Hospice care that morning. I didn’t even know she was ill. This led me spiraling down into my own guilt and my own shame for not knowing. The story within my own mind was loud and clear, “if I had not been so consumed with my own life and my own issues I would have reached out, I would have known and I could have had a chance to tell her how much she meant to me and to say goodbye.”
As this story assaulted me I knew there was a deeper lesson here for me. I knew that her life and now her death had a lesson in it for me. Over the days since her passing I have come to find out that she was diagnosed with colon cancer in March of this year at the age of 45. It was fast and it consumed her.
Kate sent me a message on my birthday in April just a little over month after her diagnosis; at the time I was in my own deep struggles and instead of engaging in conversation and asking how she was, I simply said “thank you and sent her love”. This exchange caused me quite a lot of pain & regret as I allowed the playback to persist within my own mind over and over again on the day of her death.
Of course I knew this kind of thinking was fruitless however it was there and throughout the evening I allowed the assault on myself to continue. I saw clearly how selfish this train of thinking really was and that it all had far more to do with me than it did my dear friend Kate.
This is the way of self-judgement. It will dig deep into your own weakness and your own perceived faults and it will drag you into the darkness of regret, pain and suffering.
Choosing to live life from an awakened space shows you another way. It will show you the darkness and invite you step out and see it all in the light. It will allow you to see the beauty in every regret.
As I utilized the practices of breathing and chanting to lift me out of my own selfish thinking ways and allowed myself to surrender into the arms of the Divine I began to more clearly see the gift in the pain and the suffering. I saw clearly why I didn’t know that my dear friend was ill, I saw clearly why I wasn’t meant to have the opportunity to say goodbye and I am seeing more and more clearly the answer to the question that has been so present in my life lately.
This lesson from Kate’s passing has been a powerful one and I will never again allow a moment to go by with a dear friend where I do not pause and allow space to simply ask, “how are you”. For me in this life it is about the moments. It is the moments that matter. I will not again allow myself to be consumed by possibilities in the future for the sacrifice of the NOW.
I believe my dear friend Kate would say that I was her mentor and her guide through so much, in her death she has been mine. I choose to allow myself to find the good in it all and even when my past habitual patterns within my own mind want to re-engage with self-harm, I find the strength from beyond my own self as I call out to all of the powerful beings of love and light that I know surround us and guide us.
I have learned what I believe to be our most important lesson in this lifetime, our ability to surrender and to trust. Within those actions I am held, I am guided, I am loved and there is no more room for self-harm. There is only room for the light of God to remind me truths within every situation that attempt to drag me back into the darkness.
I am so thankful for my dear friend Kate and as I lit a candle for her in prayer I sensed her freedom and my own.