There is a woman that I know very well. She grew up in Wisconsin and now resides in the same town I do in North Carolina. Although she never went to college, she studied to become a realtor and also attended nursing school. She lives with nobody but her one cat and one dog, both whom she loves very dearly. In her spare time, she enjoys gardening and taking care of her chestnut/apple trees, gladiolas, and the other beautiful plants that are so dearly tended over in her backyard. My friend absolutely loves food, especially ice cream. She is a playwright, nurse, and founder of the Recovery Room Players Christian acting group. She is the most religious person I have ever met.
On Wednesday, the doctor told her that she has a brain tumor. A few days beforehand, she discovered a lump on her temple and immediately scheduled an appointment with her doctor. After taking X-ray after X-ray and scan after scan (“Every organ in my body has been searched!” she exclaimed), it was confirmed that my friend has a brain tumor. The doctor will remove the tumor by surgery within just a few weeks and study it for any malignancy. When she told me all of this yesterday, she had a genuine smile on her face.
In more ways than one, this friend is my hero. As a child, she was adopted by a family made up of rather older people; her siblings were already grownups. Because of this, she grew up rather quickly and learned the rules of maturity at a young age. She fell in love at 17, had two children, and divorced. Her son was born with a mental disability and died at a very young age. Less than two years ago, my friend was diagnosed with breast cancer. She survived.
Despite the difficulties that this woman has had to go through in the past, every step of the way she held her head high and stayed strong. She never became bitter or tried to question fate, but held on to the faith she has in her God. Most importantly of all, she held on tightly the people and things that mattered to her most, and did not dwell despondently over what has been taken away from her. And I think that is something we can all learn from her. We all have horrific events occur in our lives, whether it be divorce, a death in the family, a fatal health risk, or simply a broken heart.
This woman has endured all of the above, and more. Even now as the thought of a malignant brain tumor sinks in along with the rest of her historical trials, she is the one assuring us and the people who care about her that everything will be all right. And she does not even consider the fact that it should be the other way around.
Even now as that tumor continues to grow and the looming prospect of surgery inches ever closer day after day, my friend will continue to keep herself happy and content by focusing on what she loves: writing comedy plays, keeping her plants plump and glowing, and counting her prayers. And, of course, staying thankful for every moment of her life.
The truth is that we choose to be happy or not. Life is what we make of it. If we choose to dwell upon the past and all of the awful things that have happened to us, we will naturally become more depressed and negative about the future and about ourselves. My personal experiences as well as having to watch others, including my friend, go through such tough struggles have shown me that life is also too short to ponder over our failures and losses. Seeing her strength shine above all and any evils that have fallen upon her has opened my eyes and encouraged me to be the happiest and the best that I can be.
The truth is, the world would be a happier place if we were all more like her.