Words Worth Remembering

New York — There were lots of things John Higgins would’ve liked about the B&C Hall of Fame dinner here last night.

Everyone wearing black tie, for one. He liked black and white clothes.

The fast-moving nature of the program would have pleased him. A baker’s dozen honorees and still the event was over around 10 p.m. In this blog age, particularly, John always had a deadline.

Most of all, he’d have been proud of his wife, Debbie.

Higgins was on many minds last night, partly because he was so associated with B&C magazine and partly because it was around this time a year ago when he died, of a heart attack, at age 45.

I’d been thinking of him over the weekend, as I mentioned to his close friend, Paul Rodriguez. It came up as it often does for me: after I’d done a calculated act of consideration to a stranger. "That would do it," Paul replied by email. John was well known for acts of kindness.

At last year’s B&C event, he was equal parts host and reporter, as Debbie was with him and she had finally moved up to New Jersey after working in Washington, D.C., as a lawyer at the FTC.

This year, his good friend Mark Robicheaux, B&C’s editor, inducted Higgins into the Hall of Fame in a special tribute before the scheduled program.

He reminded us of one of John’s favorite sayings, "Life is an Adventure," words now carved on his gravestone.

Debbie accepted the award. She gave heartfelt thanks and reminded everyone how much he loved events like this dinner, and in fact had been at a television awards event hours before he died last November.

She saluted the newsmakers, news gatherers and the entertainers in the room, saying how much comfort she’d drawn over the past months with a quiet respite in front of the TV.

Then she went a step further.

She bravely pointed out something many in the room didn’t know, about John’s final hours.

At the hospital, she said, he wasn’t treated with the kind of emergency care that should have been given a man who’d had a prior heart attack a few years earlier and who knew he was experiencing the symptoms. In fact, she said, at one point he fell to the floor and was left lying there for several minutes.

It’s important for the media to report not just on the best hospitals in the area, but to warn people about the worst hospitals, too, she said.

It’s also important, she said, for people to know that in an emergency situation, it’s best if at all possible to wait for an ambulance. That way critical care starts right away and continues at the hospital. John was, understandably, agitated and took the quickest means at hand, which was a taxicab.

She also said it’s important for people experiencing heart attack symptoms to take an aspirin, which is something they weren’t aware of at the time.

These weren’t the typical remarks one hears at a hall of fame event.

It took a lot of courage for her make her points so strongly, and yet turn them into positive advice.

John couldn’t have asked for more.