Unstoppable Strength

I just received the news from a dear friend…his mother has passed. From what I heard, an angel on earth, full of spunk, love, and a great sense of humor, has left us. I never had the honor of meeting her, but I sure enjoyed the stories of her strength, and contagiously joyful spirit. She was the type of woman everyone wanted to be around, and I know the world she touched will never be the same.

I followed along on the sidelines as much as I could, as this man gave every second he could to his mother, as she went through many health struggles. When I’d say to him, “Wow, you must be exhausted.,” he’d answer with…It’s nothing. She took care of me, now it is my turn. He saw it as the greatest honor of his life.  This world could use more grateful people like my friend.

We are there in life now – my middle aged friends. Our parents are aging, falling ill, and worse, passing away. I don’t think there is anything that can prepare someone for such a loss. Sometimes as a friend, it is hard to know how to help. In some ways, we can’t really.

There are unfortunate times in life when we have to allow someone to go through the pain. We can’t fix it. If you are a caring human being, and I hope you are…it is hard to accept doing nothing.

The best we can do is to allow ourselves to hurt along with those we care about, who are hurting. They may never know that you struggled for a day, right alongside them as they mourned. It can’t compare to what they are going through, but it is an important practice in empathy – putting yourself in someone else’s shoes so you can somewhat feel what they are feeling. It seems like the least we can do.

I haven’t lost my mother, and I certainly don’t like to think about it. It stops me in my tracks. When I see a friend experience this type of loss, I am reminded of the amazing, often unstoppable human strength.

Cancer, disease, divorce, job loss, death…it all brings us to our knees. The lucky ones don’t stay there for too long. They get up. Not getting up is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of deep pain, which we all handle differently. It is a chance for the ones who maybe get up easier, to come alongside someone else.

I am pretty visual, so when I picture life and its many highs, and sudden extreme lows, I imagine sailing along on a beautiful sailboat, sipping wine and enjoying the warm rays of the sun. It is in those moments, life feels perfect. Then suddenly, out of nowhere, the storm hits. We did everything to prepare for the sailing trip. The boat is sturdy, we checked the weather…everything looked safe…smooth sailing ahead. But the storm comes without asking, and with disregard to our plans.

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I don’t know about you, but I find it easier to accept the storm in my own life, rather than watch it happen in someone else’s. Maybe that is because I am responsible for my own life, and I can do what has to be done. I can’t always do that for someone else, and that is often a tough pill to swallow.

If we know unwelcomed storms are a part of life, then let’s start preparing while the sun is shining. Prepare by being a kind person. Is someone on your mind? Reach out. Do your friends know that even though some time has gone by because you are all so busy, they can call you when the storm comes? It is amazing what a little, I’m thinking of you can mean to a person. We just need to know we aren’t alone in all of this. It seems so small, but it is one of the best things we can do…let people know in the smallest ways, I’m here.

If I know my friend, and I think I do…he will pull himself up when it is time. He will carry on his mother’s legacy of love, compassion, loyalty, and enthusiasm for life, because his mother would have it no other way. And after going through this awful trial, he will be even more prepared to help the next person who goes through it. I am thankful for women who raise men like this.

As mothers, fathers, and decent human beings, let’s remember that the storms are the only way we can be equipped to understand and feel for others. We are going through this life together, taking turns falling down and getting up. Be the one who runs quickly to pick up the one who is down…even if you can’t physically be there.

And if you know a wonderful human being, ask them about their mother. There is a good chance she had something to with it. The hand that rocks the cradle, truly does rule the world.