The night I spoke about courage
Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear — not absence of fear.
- Mark Twain, Pudd'nhead Wilson
This is an excerpt from remarks I delivered last year at a candlelight service of remembrance put on by Kara, a grief support organization in the San Francisco Bay Area.
In a span of minutes and hours, my world had been shattered. When all this happened, I could not imagine a worse situation. When I married Linda, I had vowed to devote myself to her in times of hardship. I never could have imagined that this is what hardship would mean. I felt hopeless, faced with the pain of losing Linda, the uncertainty surrounding my daughter's health, and the weight of raising two young children as a single parent.
I have to confess that courage is not a theme that immediately resonated with me because I do not consider myself a strong person. There have been and still are days when I am overwhelmed by my grief and am not sure if I will make it. Even now, when I look back at the first few months of this year, I wonder how I survived. But through this experience I have come to better understand what courage really is.
I believe courage is not about feeling strong or brave or confident. Instead, it is borne out of weakness and doubt; it is mustered up by finding the ability to go on precisely when you don't know if you can. It takes courage to wake up each morning and try to do your best for yourself and those whom you love when the person you wish the most was here to help you through it all, no longer is.
Each night, when my girls are asleep and the house is quiet, I breathe a sigh of relief knowing that I have made it yet another day. There have been many personal milestones this year in finding courage. It was hard to tell elder daughter that her mother died and to watch her cry out for Linda. It was hard to care for my younger daughter once she came home from the hospital, having miraculously defied all the odds. It has been a struggle learning to take care of both kids on my own and to deal with the fatigue, both physical and emotional, that often sets in. It has been hard to come to terms with a future without the person dearest to me.
However, it is an enduring love for Linda and a shared hope for our daughters' futures that allows me to dig deep, to find that second wind when I need it, and to persevere in the most difficult of days. It is what has given me the ability to carry on and to find courage along the way. I know there will be more days when the pain will seem intolerable, but I'm not as afraid of it as I used to be.
Each of you has come here this evening to remember someone dear to you. It took courage for you to do that. I feel honored to be able to speak for the first time about my story in front of this group. Thank you for listening.