Thursday, July 15, 2010

What Makes a True Hero?

So, as you know, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer a few months ago. With each step through the process we've all wondered when she'd break down, become that anxious, worry-prone person we all thought she was all her life and be unable to cope with whatever comes next. We were all prepared to have to prop her up through this - to help her face her greatest fear. Well, you know what? She's surprising us all. Somehow she has come up with the inner strength to stay calm, focussed and, most importantly, panic-free. I guess what none of us realized all these years was that she always had this inside her. We underestimated her strength and resolve. As I've done my whole life, I'm still learning from her and about her.

This strength in the face of adversity is what makes you root for someone. It is the ability to consciously know that even if the foe is the scariest thing in the world to you (or you've made it the scariest thing in the world) you won't run and hide from it. You face it. You deal. This is, I believe, the core of a true hero. This is what so many of us wish to be yet so few of us are.

If we've lived a charmed life we may never have to face what truly terrifies us. I wouldn't wish anything but a life filled with rainbows and butterflies for my kids (well, maybe not butterflies because my ten year old is truly terrified of them) but that would be selfish of me. I want my children to be able to face their fears. A life of ease isn't what builds great character. Your true self shines when things are at their worst and you have to come up with a way to push through the dark. When all seems lost the true hero does not give in to despair but finds the strength, somewhere, somehow, to go through another hour, another day. That is what I hope for my children - that they have the ability - like my mom - to push through the dark.

I hope I capture the elements of a true hero when I develop the characters in my writing. But even if I don't, it doesn't matter. I've been blessed and inspired to actually know a real life hero. You go, Mom.


  1. My mother suffers from an anxiety disorder--the littlest things can (and frequently do) freak her out. But when something big comes along (serious illness, death in the family, surgery) she's always come through like a trooper. I once asked her why that was, and she said she thought it was because the fear you can see--no matter how big--isn't as scary as the one you can't.

    A lot of her anxiety about what I consider small stuff was really just fear of that unseen big thing out there, waiting to pounce. Once it was in front of her, where she could see it for what it was, she was much better able to deal with it.

    My thoughts and prayers are with your family. :)

  2. What a moving post. That's amazing your mom has been able to handle it so well. Hope you are holding up. And she does sound like a true hero.

  3. Hi Linda: Thank you for that. It really is true, isn't it? My mother works much better when she has all the facts and information in front of her. As do I. The fear of the unknown is so incredibly powerful.

    Hi Laura: Thank you so much for your support. It means a lot.

  4. I'm always amazed by people who handle adversity calmly. Some people say I do that, but I think it's because I'm outwardly a reserved person. I'm also optimistic and ambitious, so that helps. I always believe that things will turn up for me after a bad situation.

    I'm glad to hear that your mom is keeping strong. I wish you two the best.

  5. What a beautiful post, Nelsa. Your mom is a strong woman, and raised a strong daughter. All my love and prayers go to her and you. With so much strength and determination, your mom will win this.

    I'm here for you, my incredible friend :)

  6. Hi Medeia: Thank you so much for your kind wishes. I think many of us could learn a lot from your strong, optimistic attitude.

    Stephanie: Hey, girl. Thank you so much. It means a lot to know you're in my corner and rooting Mom on. I truly believe that the positive energy being sent her way does help tremendously.