Life adventures, inspiration and insight; shared in articles, advice, personal chats and pictures.
What is it that carries children or anyone through terrible times? Resiliency, or the ability to bounce back and carry on, is directly related to whether the person affected has anyone who acts as an anchor. Each of us needs at least one person we feel is in our corner—encouraging, loving, or simply reminding us that the world has a positive side. Research proves that with somebody—a parent, teacher, friend, neighbor, coach, whomever—to believe, even a child living in deprivation can persevere. It’s the difference between those who give up and those who manage to pull themselves out of the pit.
This week, I saw a dramatic demonstration. Our youngest grandchild had a birthday that we celebrated at our house. Her mother brought decorations and we all pitched in to create the requested dinner. Our granddaughter was so excited about opening presents that she could barely tolerate eating.
The rest of the family was concerned. This would be the little girl’s first birthday since her daddy died unexpectedly. Her core family had been extremely tight-knit—doing everything as a unit. What would this birthday celebration look like?
The gift opening began with reading birthday cards. One of the first came from her mother, the person charged with leading her family through their sorrow. She had written a sweet note on her card, signing both Mommy and Daddy since his love was surely present. But as the child read the words, Mommy teared up. She was struck by the immensity of their loss. We all braced for a group weep. We had done them many times before.
The little girl hardly paused before firmly directing, “You can’t cry, Mommy. It’s my birthday.”
Mommy sniffed and sucked it up.
No one commented and the celebration continued into the ecstasy that accompanies wishes fulfilled. But I had learned an important lesson. First, I was impressed with the tremendous love of the mother, who set aside her own grief to give her daughter the happiest birthday possible.
Second, I was impressed that her daughter had been supported well enough over her few years of life to be able to insist on the unspoiled joy she had been anticipating. In the preceding weeks, she had often joined her siblings in crowding around their mother, defusing their grief by sharing it. She had written little sadness notes at school, telling her daddy how much she missed him. But on the one day of the year that was her special day, she wanted a happiness break.
How many of us need to remember that sometimes when life seems to be delivering blow after blow, we can insist on a happiness break? The heart remembers light even in the darkness.