In my day to day life, I am now a middle school teacher. Over the last month in several language arts classes, we have been exploring heroes and what makes someone a hero. It’s a great process. Students get to write what they think a hero is and then over the weeks we explore poetry, movies, experiences and stories of heroes and their journeys. So, as I’ve been preparing and participating in the discussions and instruction I have been thinking about my own definition of heroes and heroics.
Since widowed, I have met many, many people who are truly heroes. I meet men and women who put every ounce of their souls into surviving great heartache. They may stumble at first, but with great courage they continue and carve out lives for themselves in new and extraordinary ways. Many of them transform their own heartache into service to others and astound me with their bravery.
The people in my life who are heroes in the true sense of the word for me are my boys. So young, yet challenged to deal with such an adverse situation. Every day, my heart sings for them and breaks for them as they walk through their journey without their dad. I had my dad with me until a few years ago. I don’t know what it’s like to grow up without a dad. My dad was always there. He was consistent, reliable, honest, and filled with dignity and respect. He loved us and worked hard all his life to provide for us. He was funny, kind and generous. My husband had many of these same qualities, but my boys don’t get to see it up close like I did every day. It’s very different. Their memories of their dad, if they still have them, are fading. My little one was only six months old when my husband died. He has no memories of his own. He didn’t know his dad. He has our stories, he has pictures, he has my words to reassure him, but he doesn’t have his dad. For many years, this was ok, he had me and I was enough. As he got out into the world more though he began to feel the gaping hole in his life. He began to see other families with daddy around and it changed him.
My big boy had nearly seven years with his dad. They spent tons of time together. It really was wonderful. When he was an infant and toddler, they spent long Sundays together while I worked. As he went to school, afternoons were their time together until I got home around dinner time. They enjoyed each other. When Dave died, he was so lost. Here he was with mom, all those wonderful things he did with his dad were gone. As he grows his challenges change. Being without his dad peppers each phase of his life in a new way.
Now, these sweet boys only have me to deal with each day.
Now I can hear all of my friends and those around me saying that this is ok and they are lucky to have me….all very true….we are lucky to still have each other…but in all fairness to my boys, they are the only ones that have to put up with me every, single, day. They have no choice. No one else lives behind our doors, just us three. I am far from perfect and although I do give my very best effort daily I make many mistakes. These brave boys don’t have the gift of diversity of adults in our home. They don’t have another parent to hear them in a way I don’t. They don’t have someone else to go to when they want another opinion. They don’t have anyone else to exert their frustration with me to when they need to do that.
Here’s the thing though, they get up every day and start over again. They go to school. They make friends. They have fun. They do. They laugh. They cry. They strive to be good students. They still have dreams and hopes. They have good days and bad day. They do all this every day. They do it on days when they are sad. They do it at times when they miss their dad so much they can hardly breathe. They do on days when I have yelled at them or expressed disappointment in some way. They do it on days when I am having a bad day. They do it every day. They are my heroes.
Every time I see them smile, every time I see the sparkle in their eyes, I am moved with such pride in their courage and ability to not let their hearts turn to stone. They are my heroes. They inspire me to be better. They inspire me to love more deeply. They inspire me to keep going each day.
They each came into my very ordinary life and have created a life for me that is extraordinary every day. What a privilege to live in the midst of such heroics every day!
How lucky am I?