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Brave

Brave is a word I am not used to hearing so often. It’s especially a word I am not used to hearing in reference to myself and my life.  I guess it’s not so surprising though that I have been getting a lot of encouragement about bravery since my diagnosis. Either folks are exclaiming how brave I am or cheering me on to “be brave!” Andrew and I have been asking ourselves and each other what the word actually means.  We wondered, is it possible that brave just means that you are going through something difficult like this? In that case, as Andrew pointed out, it’s kind of great, because it means everyone gets to be brave whenever they need to be. Or does it mean going through something like this without losing your mind? Does it mean never crying? Or does it mean crying whenever you need to (and knowing when that is)? Is it about remaining calm or is it about remaining honest?

I have already felt the need to be “brave” many times on this journey so far. Sometimes it has meant keeping it together to make other people feel better, gritting my teeth through the pain or sitting still and quiet when I’d much rather be running around screaming at the top of my lungs. Other times it has meant crying in front of strangers because there was nothing else I could do or speaking honestly about how much it hurts and how scary it is. And there have been many more times when I have felt that I am not brave enough, like I did not have the power to get through a moment with grace or patience. But I think that might be ok. Maybe bravery is really just about living in the presence of fear. Most of us do this, on different levels, every day. We all have our demons and our fears that we have to deal with every day. I am just in a unique position in which my fear is clear and people have some sense of the demons I’m forced to conquer. Perhaps my need for bravery is just more obvious than everyone else’s right now?

Speaking of brave, this video has become my anthem over the last two weeks. Andrew and I watched it the other day and somewhere around minute 3 we realized we were both getting choked up. I think that on the one hand it’s just an awesome video, and on the other hand we felt like the call to bravery was particularly relevant to us right now.

– This post is written in solidarity with the hundreds of big and millions of small acts of bravery we witnessed 12 years ago today on September 11th, 2001.