Resilience

It was a difficult week back in June. The sudden death of a beautiful 15 year old girl rocked our community. Even those of us who didn’t know her were affected as we watched our children try to cope. They buried her on the Monday. Tuesday, we received news of the diagnosis of a beloved family member with breast cancer. The gravity of what lay ahead for her, all came flooding back. Wednesday we were on the receiving end of a bit of credit card fraud just for the hell of it. And Thursday, a retaliatory eviction notice from a recalcitrant landlord.

Friday I drank champagne, toasting the preciousness of life and my gratitude for it.

While I wobbled a little that week, for the most part I stayed centred. A friend paid me the great compliment of describing me as ‘resilient’. And I guess that’s one of the strengths I’ve discovered within myself post cancer. My ability to put things in perspective and know I have the resources within me to come through it all for the better, one way or another.

But I’m glad I don’t do drama routinely. Too exhausting.

This week just passed my resilience was again put to the test. And it all began with the rash. My body recognised the impending stress of a tribunal hearing this week and it just broke out. Not something I am normally given to. Arms and legs covered in red itchy spots. Not contagious, just a sign my inner self was not altogether happy with what lay ahead. Insightfully described as a sign of my great irritation at an unjust situation. Happily a good outcome and the rash is now all but gone. But just as the relief was sinking in, I heard the news and once again it put my small grievances in perspective. My children witnessing all the horror of a shocking tragedy as their school bus collided with a pedestrian. She died at the scene. They arrived home distraught, an innocence lost and I can never take those images from them.

A rubber band of emotion.

Just to top it off, Friday came and with it the question I had prepared my daughter for her whole life. A boy asking her if she was going to die young because she has CF. After all, that’s what it says in the papers. No surprise really that death was uppermost on their young minds. I held my breath and to my immense relief her response was just perfect. ‘I’m not intending to’ she said with a massive smile. ‘I’m going to be one hundred’. All those years of building her inner strength paid off in just that moment. And her mindset puts her more than halfway there. You just have to look at the awesome power of Nathan Charles to see what determination and mindset can do.

One of the greatest gifts I hope to give my children is resilience. I’ve heard it described as the ability to bungy jump through the pitfalls of life. And I love that image. Because there are pitfalls, aren’t there. There are stressors beyond our control. And what I’ve discovered is that it’s not what happens to us, but how we respond to it that’s important.

This week perhaps even more than any other, we’ve felt our emotions together. What we feel is what we feel. There is no right or wrong. And in helping my children to understand that, it gives them permission to process these new feelings in the very best way possible. To feel their distress and their worry for one of their favourite drivers. To have come face to face with death and the realisation that we are indeed mortal. To have the emotional intelligence to sit with their pain and accept that it is a part of life rather than bottle it up or fight it. Fortunately, they’ll move through it quicker this way. Changed forever, yes but an opportunity to discover just how resilient they really are…

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