My role

Ted and I watched the 60 Minutes piece about Nelson Mandela on Monday night.  I remember when Mandela's great granddaughter died at the start of the World Cup but I honestly had no idea that he had lost two adult sons - one in a car accident and one to AIDS.  "Mandela compared his grief [when his son Thembi died in the car accident] to that suffered by a tribal chief savaged by a lion, whose wounds had to be cauterized with a red hot spear."  I found this quote this morning in this article, where I also learned that Mandela had lost a nine month old daughter 21 years before the loss of his first son.  Three children!  I am just overwhelmed at the thought.  The 60 Minutes piece focused on Mandela's strength and how he never stopped smiling through all of the oppression.  I can understand his strategy in smiling at his oppressors - it was his way of making sure that they didn't win.  But, I couldn't help but wonder why he felt that he needed to smile through such gigantic personal losses.  It probably has something to do with the public's expectation of someone so larger than life.

Is it weird that I feel comforted when I hear of other people who've lost children?  It isn't that I am "glad" that they've lost.  It's that I think, "If they've done it, I can do it!"  

Even as a regular person, I feel that there is an expectation of a role I am supposed to play.  People want to see that this woman made it through the awful loss of her son and is now living a happy and beautiful life.  I sometimes feel like my role, among the people who know me (but don't really know me), is to demonstrate the strength of the human spirit.  We are incredibly resilient creatures, it's true, but I am nowhere near close to being healed.  I am STILL taking it one hour at a time.  And even though I am smiling on the outside, I am often still dying on the inside. 


Tamar said...

Personally, I feel like resilience is feeling your feelings, no matter what they are. Resilience is being honest as you continue to do here most days of the week. Resilience is choosing to live your life and keep going, even though it's forever changed. xo

Anonymous said...

for some reason this post made me think about my dad. I have thought many, many times in my life that I cannot believe how upbeat, calm, and happy my dad is. He lost his three year old brother many, many years ago then lost both parents the same week when he was 35. I am 33. If I lost my parents two years from now and had lost a sibling, I wouldn't know how to get out of bed each day. And none of that could even compare to the loss of a child (I realize this now that I have one). I can't imagine there being a deeper pain than that. But I am a believer. I believe that when I lose my dad one day, which will be heartbreaking, he will be with his brother again after all these years. And that is going to comfort me so much. I believe strongly that one day you will be with your Maxie again. Sending prayers to you.