The Resilience of a Butterfly
Feb 05, 2018 07:06PM
This month’s main feature is on resilience, which seems to be all the rage these days. There are hundreds of books on the topic, including how to help yourself, your kids, families, college students and communities ‘be’ more resilient. It made me wonder what the term actually meant so I looked it up in the dictionary and discovered that resilience basically means “an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.”
OK, I get it. Resilience is an ability to bounce back, pull yourself out of the ashes, recover from defeat, heartbreak, pain, illness, disaster and any number of life challenges that get thrown our way. But I found the words ‘recover’ and ‘easily’ in the definition interesting. Because when I think of resilience, I think of my mom. She never ‘recovered’ much less ‘easily’ from the misfortune (i.e. heart disease) that plagued her small body; yet she laughed, joked and loved her way through it. Nothing about facing her own mortality and the deterioration of her physical self was easy. As a matter of fact, it was painfully difficult, ugly at times, frightening and sad. And yet she faced it head on—knowing she wasn’t going to recover. That, my friends, is resilience.
Two decades ago, while traveling through England, I met a lovely and hilarious fellow traveler, Jason from New Zealand. I recently found out that he has terminal cancer and won’t be with us much longer. He has a wife and two small children. He told me this Christmas was likely the last time he would watch his kids opening presents under the tree. His current hope is that he’s still here for their upcoming birthdays. He told me, “Just knowing that I’m going to leave them and the world behind soon is so gutting.” And yet, he keeps on; witnessing and experiencing what he can while he can. That is resilience.
I can’t tell you how much I admire my mom, Jason and all of those facing insurmountable obstacles that they knowingly will not ‘recover’ from. You are my heroes. You are resilience in action.
Before my mom passed away, her mind and body became agitated — much like a cocoon becomes distressed before springing forth into a butterfly. I like to believe that the moment she released from her body, she was finally free. Now every time I see a butterfly, I see my mom, my grandma, my friend Jason, and all those loved ones whose resilience of spirit inspired a path for us to follow. And for them, I am eternally grateful.