Words of encouragement? Take your pick. Fill in the blanks. You are so brave, strong, determined…Ugh. You have been such a warrior, fighter, soldier…Sigh. The strength you have shown is inspiring, incredible, courageous…Stop. Please.
I knew you meant well. You saw the emotionally, physically, mentally stunted person before you. The thought I might be giving up was just too painful to comprehend. Maybe even frustrating. After all, I was still alive. People loved me. I had so much living to do. My spouse, children, family, and friends needed me. God wasn’t finished with me yet. All motivational quips to fall back on simply because it couldn’t be believed that I would wave the white flag and surrender to the circumstances before me. Send the Hallmark card, coffee mug, bible verses, flowers, inspirational quotes, thoughts, prayers and well wishes in hopes that I would find the courage to continue fighting.
It’s hard to be vulnerable and share these thoughts. I think back to my loved ones and how difficult it must have been for my closest and dearest to find hope after my accident. I wasn’t BRAVE. I was BROKEN. From shattered bones to a splintered spirit where was the strength in that exactly? Warrior? HA! They did their best to offer me comfort. And yet I suffered. I didn’t want to hear it. They found the courage to say it anyway.
There is no comfort in that kind of courage.
But they said it anyway. They prayed it not knowing if I heard it. They cried it in the unknown. They said it when I woke up. They whispered it as I rested. They cried it again when the seizures came. They spoke it in between silent sobbing and angry tears. They cheered it when I walked the first time. Once even yelled it between cuss words. And they pleaded it when I couldn’t fight anymore. Courage.
Our family dog Harley is in the last stages of life. He’s a good one. We adopted him from a neighbor because he kept running away to play with our kids. His owner loved him enough to let him come live with us, as it was evident he craved the attention and time that children are naturally inclined to give to a wagging tail and puppy kisses. We love him. Tumors have begun to take over his little body. He is fighting and hurting. I hold him and offer words of encouragement. I fall back on the clichés myself. You are such a strong boy…fighter…brave. I do my best to offer him comfort. And yet he still suffers. I don’t want to say goodbye. I say it anyway. Courage.
There is no comfort in that kind of courage either.
But I said it anyway. Courage is necessary to help one to hang on. Courage is also painfully necessary to grant permission to peacefully go. There is no comfort in either choice but there is courage in making one. To my loved ones, thank you for choosing courage over comfort. To say and believe the words until I could find my own brave…strength…inner warrior. To everyone else nurturing the pained, fill in the blanks. Send the card. Buy the mug. Pray it. Cry it. Whisper it. Scream it, if necessary. Love them. Hold them. But find the COURAGE to say it anyway.
Grace and peace,
This week's blog writer is Heidi Presley, instrumental in the beginning of LIVING52. She is an educator and beloved by many.