July 13, 2016
Do you ever wonder how it is that some people can take punch after punch, and still maintain their positive outlook, while others seem to wallow in the aftermath of the first real blow in life they ever get?
To me, people are endlessly fascinating. Some are resilient, and some are not. Some you look at and think, “Lord, how do they manage to keep getting up and taking that next step time and time again?” What fuels them? What gives them that strength?
I can tell you what that something is, but I can’t tell you where to find it. I know where I get mine, but I believe for each of is, the source of that quality is different. I believe it’s different because we are all unique individuals, designed by the original manufacturer to be just that: unique.
That something is attitude. I have long believed it’s not your aptitude but your attitude that determines your altitude in life. That, plus that old saying, “life is 5 percent what happens to me and 95 percent how I deal with it”, are my two favorite maxims.
When I was ten years old, a momentous thing happened in my life: two doors down from me a new family moved into our rural neighborhood. This family consisted of a mother, and five children—three girls and two boys. One of those girls was eight days older than me. We became fast friends. We had one huge thing in common: neither of us had a father living with us. Mine had gone to heaven, and hers had gone to another family because her parents divorced several years before.
For nearly two decades we were inseparable, and then we lost touch for nearly that long again. When next I saw her, she’d been widowed, and was in a relationship with another man, a man who made her happy. We didn’t live close to each other, and our interests had varied, but the core of our friendship, those early years of being as close as sisters, held. In a lot of ways, it was as if we’d never been apart.
Our families had been close in those early years; she and her first husband would bring their three kids for a Saturday night get together. We’d put all the kids—hers and mine—to bed and play cards and visit into the wee hours. When we drifted apart—primarily because they moved several hours away—our families grew up independent of each other’s.
Life happened to us both and time moved on.
A few years ago, the relationship, the happiness she’d found in the aftermath of the death of her first husband, ended as she was widowed once more. This loss wasn’t as unexpected as the first, as her husband was ill. She cared for him, of course, in his final days. Love is, after all, a verb. Her strength then astounded me.
Many of you will be shaking your heads, and you might even say, my goodness, to lose two spouses! What kind of endurance does a person have to have? You have to wonder at the vagaries of fate, too. And many of you, learning that when this second loss occurred she was nearing 60, would think—as I had thought—that she’d been fortunate to find two loves. Most of us are lucky to find even one!
She seemed content to be on her own for a change, and didn’t let her latest loss hold her down too long.
I know some people who’ve lost a mate, and have vowed to never again get married—not because they don’t want to love and be loved, but because they could not bear a second such loss.
My good friend turns 62 today. And this past Saturday I attended her wedding to a man, who although I don’t know very well at all, I know is a good man. I know this because I have never seen my friend looking quite so happy, and healthy as she did when she said her vows.
To wallow in that first loss, to never have taken another chance, would have denied the heartbreak of a second loss, this is true. But it would also have denied her the joy and happiness of her second love, and would certainly have closed her off from finding her new love.
It’s all attitude. Life knocks us all down, at one time or another. It can batter us, and I don’t know a single human being who has not been battered.
But the secret is this: don’t let that battering define you. Don’t stay down. Get up and keep going, because as hard as the path may sometimes seem, if you don’t walk it, you’ll miss the joy and beauty just waiting for you, right there along the way.
Diana and Bill, I wish you all the love and joy your hearts can hold!