I want to make it clear that there is a difference between bravery and courage. When a firefighter rushes back into a burning building or a soldier steps in harm’s way to face down the enemy, these are acts of bravery. They are willing to risk their lives for the sake of others and generally people they do not know. Courage is the day to day acts that we perform. They can be as small as telling your two year old “no” in the middle of the candy store or even just lying with your arm in that awkward position that only cuddling can create. You know, the one where your arm and hand is slowly falling asleep but you are committed to the caring act. At the other end of the spectrum lies true courage. That point, where faced with the unknown or even the end of life, one carries on for the people they love and those same people surrounding them.
I was going to title this “Fearless Courage” but I believe that the true meaning of courage involves a certain degree of fear. Without fear it would not be courage bur rather irrational behavior. It takes courage to act in the face of fear. It is in that unknown that we muster the strength to act even when our rational brain would tell us otherwise. It is in that arena that true courage rises to the top.
As I sit here writing this piece, I have a dear friend demonstrating this courage. Diagnosed with cancer and the inbred logic of a surgical nurse, Carol knew that the ultimate outcome of her battle was sealed in her fate. Do not doubt for one minute that she did not put up the most valiant of fights but even as she spoke of the battle she was clear on its outcome.
In this setting, it would be so easy to be angry, be angry Carol, to give in, let us take care of you Carol, or just plain whine about your fate. I need to tell you that from the moment we learned of the diagnosis there was never a moment when we thought that she would allow any of this. She is sassy and full of life. She is mine and my wife’s role model in strength of character, parenting and grand parenting and how to be your spouse’s soul mate while still keeping him in line. Carol is courageous.
Through this all she has prepared her family and encouraged them throughout her ordeal. And let’s not forget them in this battle. They too are courageous. I can see the concern, even fear in their eyes, but they carry on. They love each other. They are there for each other and they demonstrate in every imaginable way that they are all in this together. As Carol reminds them of what she needs them to do, they give each other strength to be courageous.
Bravery is a lack of concern but courage is just the opposite. Courage uses concern as its weapon against fear. My dear friend has found her courage and she inspires me. Not just to write this piece, but to live my life better and deeper. I thank you Carol for the battle you have waged, for your courage you have displayed and for the road you have paved for all of us. It is on that road that your family will live out their lives as a testament to yours.