My friend Erika was a beacon of light!
She was not afraid to be big and bold and bright. She was full of life and nothing held her back from living it to the fullest! Not even cancer! Her greatest love was children. She made funny voices, got down on the floor and played Barbie’s, hand-painted piggy banks and finger painted with my children, squeezing herself next to them at their little plastic picnic table. She was every child’s dream best friend…but she had a license to drive…a dream come TRUE!
My children wrote about her in their journal’s at school all the time, referring to her as “my best friend.” I don’t think the teacher’s realized for a few months, that she was an adult. The descriptions of her made her sound like another young child. We all LOVED that about Erika!
She taught me so many things about living. Many of those lessons I am just now realizing. She has only been gone from this Earthly place for a few months. At only 31 years old, God took her from us far too young…but she lives on in the smiles, the laughter and the tears of everyone who knew her.
My house has been abuzz with Erika Heller chatter, these first couple of weeks of school. We have all shed tears of sadness for how much we miss her. Hers was always the first call, on the first day of school when I would return to the eerily silent house. Bypassing any formal HELLOS, she would cut straight to the chase, “How are my girls? Do they like their teachers? Are their friends in their class? What did they wear?” And our hour-long conversation would ensue.
I missed hearing her voice this year. I had a little conversation with her in my kitchen, looking up to the skies through tear-stained cheeks.
My oldest daughter Madison, was interviewed by a new boy in her class the first day so the class could find out more about each other. One of the question’s she was asked was, “Who do you most admire?” Her eyes filled with tears as she immediately thought about Erika, whose beauty, bravery and love have greatly influenced Madison’s life.
Ava and Elle, my 7-year-old twins, sat on the carpet at school the other day listening to the story of a brave hero, Terry Fox, who battled cancer but united a country. They began to cry as they thought of the courage of our smiling friend, who never complained one day about the cancer she battled for 4 years.
Though we have all cried thinking of Erika, it is OUR LOSS we cry for most. Because we love her…and she loved us! She is our soul-sister. It is our good fortune to have loved so much, that brings us to tears.
I was inspired to write this post this morning after I came across a poem by Marianne Williamson that I had read many years ago in her book, because it reminded me of Erika. She lived her life the way this poem encourages all women to live…with childlike abandon, brightness, brilliance and boldness! I feel so blessed that my children and I have such an inspiring point of reference as a reminder of how amazing we are…as young girls…and as women.
Hug your friends and your children today if you can! Make that call and hear their voice…and for heavens sake don’t be afraid to SHINE!
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“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness
that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves,
Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small
does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine,
as children do.
We were born to make manifest
the glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us;
it’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.”
– Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love