Last week I was speaking with a co-worker about some health issues I had when I was nineteen. I wasn’t complaining, but rather explaining about a surgery she had asked me about. Toward the end of the conversation she commented how, based off the stories we’ve shared, my life has been hard. I was shocked, and said so.
The only thing I ever feel bad about is my sister’s death, and even then I know that plenty of people have had worse tragedies. For me, though, it’s my greatest personal tragedy. I’m not looking forward to the next tragedy that trumps it. Because the thing about adversity is that it is a part of life. There is always something to overcome.
I can recount many people who have inspired me by their bravery and tenacious determination to overcome. My mother’s family was dysfunctional. Her father was abusive and her mother distant. She overcame her history to be a damn good mom and taught me more about love than possibly anyone else in the world.
My nephew has Asperger’s Syndrome, and has been misunderstood or bullied most of his short (13 yrs) life. He continues to extend himself, remaining friendly and hopeful, in spite of how people have treated him.
My sister, while in the downward spiral of chronic Multiple Sclerosis, didn’t become bitter at what the disease had taken from her.
But that’s just the beginning. Every day I work with kids who still play and see magic in a world where their parents rob them of their childhood. I see parents who overcome domestic violence, or work a full time job and attend school full time in the short-term, so they can provide a better life for their kids in the long run. I hear of people the world over who come through fire to emerge victorious over adversity.
We have a tendency to give adversity a hierarchy, based on what we are most afraid of. The hierarchy doesn’t negate what one person is dealing with, though. It doesn’t diminish the pain which any of us feel in the midst of adversity. It can, however, give us perspective. The comparison of adversities is what allows me to feel lucky because I haven’t lost a child--even if I did lose my sister. In the end, some may have more to overcome than others, but we all are heroes in our own lives.