Sometimes, something surprises you and knocks you sideways in a ‘that’s so beautiful I missed a breath’ kind of way.
I use facebook. It’s not usually beautiful. Its normally filled with me moaning about early starts, chest infections and how I dote on my kids… But the other day I signed in and this quote and picture popped up:
‘She stood in the storm and when the wind did not blow her away she adjusted her sails’
The words and the image stopped me in my tracks. The words resonated at a very emotional level; I have sailed some storms, as have so many of us. I loved the image too, of the woman hands dug deep in pockets, contemplating the waves with her son. I know her a little and know something of her storm. We met through our kids – her son is also profoundly deaf. She calls him her ‘cyborg’ as he recently had cochlear implants and is learning BSL and speech simultaneously. She sails well; having her own sewing business, learning a new language, attending all the speech therapy appointments, she even runs (like proper running), and blogs (www.weseedeafpeople.wordpress.com) and all with an amazingly positive attitude…
I don’t know if my friend has navigated storms before this one. But what surprised me as I contemplated these words was a deep belief I used to have that ‘lightening doesn’t strike twice’. My father died some 17 years ago. The circumstances were particularly difficult. I remember being pregnant with smiling flower 13 years later and clearly thinking, I’ve had my storm, this pregnancy is going to be just fine. The fact that I clearly hadn’t had my fill of difficulty truly winded me for a while. Was this naivety or the irrepressible hope that humans seem to come back to time and again?
I looked up the author – Elizabeth Edwards. She too lived through more than one storm. Her son died in a car crash, she had breast cancer from which she initially recovered, then her husband had an affair through which he fathered a child. Finally, the breast cancer came back and ultimately killed her. The quote is Edwards explaining, towards the end of her life, how she would like to be remembered. From the little I have read, I’d say she was adept at tacking and tallying her sails: she certainly seems to have remained open and rich in her celebration of life.
I’m celebrating my birthday today. I have come down to the beach to watch the sunset and have a think. These moments are unbelievably rare and precious. People often tell me ‘I don’t know how you do it.’ I don’t always know what ‘it’ refers to and I also know that what I do manage of ‘it’ is often helped way too much by a family indulgence in Shaun the Sheep (Aardmann – I thank you). Yet, today, on the eve of a whole new year I am inspired by how E Edwards did ‘it’; She made a difference, had a very human warmth and a deep gratitude towards those around her. I feel very positive about my 38th year. This could be naivety or irrepressible hope. Whatever, I like this quote and I am going to rest my head on it tonight….