Often when we hear about the hardships of our friends or strangers, the common response is “I don’t think I could survive that”. When in fact, we have all overcome adversity that we had initially thought were impossible – failing a class, heartbreak over a first love, never ending job search, long nights with a crying baby. And as we get more invested in life, the bigger our adversities become and the more we have to lose. But for whatever reasons, we still feel unprepared for the struggles that await us and panic at its arrival. However I have found that women, all women, possess amazing strength that we are unaware of. When disaster occurs, that strength finds us and carries us through. Because we, as women, are more resilient than we know and stronger than we give ourselves credit for.
When we think of war, we think of the big bombs and courageous soldiers. But what we forget is that life goes on. That on the same fields where bombs are destroying, there are people marrying, dying, divorcing, growing, laughing, crying and loving. And while we’re familiar with the heroic tales of the soldiers and commanders, what we do not hear are the stories of the women who keep life going. Zainab Salibi tells in her Ted Talk of the mother who puts on puppet shows for her children so that they would not be afraid of the fighting taking place outside their doorstep. The music teacher who kept her school open during the war and had children playing wearing coats, mittens and hats so that they could still have music in their lives. The woman who ran around her village and collected all the flour the moment cease fire was declared so that if there was no cease fire tomorrow, there would be bread for everyone to eat. These women went above and beyond just the call to survive but rose up beyond the tragedy and made something good. Their strength aided not to the end of war but the continuing of life. Because when war ends, and it eventually does, there will be something to come back to, children to carry out the generation and life still flourishing all thanks to these women.
When my dad passed away suddenly, my mom found herself alone for the first time in her life. She had gone from living in her parents’s home to living with my dad. They lived together, they worked together, they did everything together. My dad took care of everything – from home life to the store and driving in between. If my mom had a doctor’s appointment, my dad would drive her the day before so she would know where to go. But in a matter of mere moments, my mom found herself alone. Alone at home, alone at work and alone to take care of all things that my dad had done. My sister and I helped where we could, stayed with her as long as we could and even invited her to stay with us but she refused. This was her way of life now.
Since then my mom has adjusted. She’s been running the store by herself, finding her way to the doctor’s by herself and living in a new place by herself. She comes over and plays with the kids, she volunteers at church and even cooks me food. Where she finds the energy, I do not know. I used to hold my breath, waiting for the other shoe to drop. Its been two years and it never has. I know when her world turned upside down, she didn’t think she could go on but she did and did so with more grace and strength than I thought was humanly possible.
There are moments in my own life when I’m not sure how things will turn out and if I have much more to give. But I remember that deep inside myself, I have a reservoir of strength to draw upon. Strength that have been deposited by my mother and her mother, my sister, my daughter, my friends, the women before me and the women after me. No one wakes up with the thought that today, they will do something life altering. We all wake up and we do what the day asks of us. But its in answering those calls that we find ourselves doing the extraordinary – giving more than what we thought we had in us to give and doing better than we had anticipated. It is only when we look back that we see how hard it was, how much we’ve grown and how much stronger we are now. So, my dear friends, the next time you’re up in the middle of the night worried about how you’ll make ends meet, how you’ll face the day or how you’ll ever go on, take a deep breath and know that you have the strength to face whatever challenge that stands before you. Because you, a women, are amazing and have more strength, more courage, more love than you think you do – I am sure of it!