If I could leave only a single gift to my nieces and nephews it would be that. Resilience.
If I could only teach one thing to grieving mothers, it would be that.
Resilience gets a bad rap. It gets trampled over, turned into demands for boundless optimism, swept aside in platitudes about life and lemon-aide.
I look at these children gifted into my life – just starting their life and I hold up this wish to the universe.
Remember, I whisper, they are loved. They are not free from pain or hurt – they have known bitter disappointment and terrible bullying. They have come crashing and skidding into this world early. They have cried and been angry.
Remember, they are loved. And world, when you deal with them, deal with them in the sure and certain knowledge they are loved. They are loved with a holy and consuming passion.
And let me be this to them – when the world is hard and they are broken, let there be a safe place to come and gather themselves together. But let them gather themselves together. Let them see, that is their job when they are broken – to mourn, and then to put aside mourning. Let them see that their job is to lift their heads up, stick their chin forward and be all they can be.
Let them be not hard – the world breaks hard people. Let them be not cynical or despairing, the world will consume those sort and spit them out. Let them be a sort of flexible – honest enough to know where they have failed and been failed. Let them temper that with the love that surrounds them. And then, when the time is right, let them step back out, and be resilient.
It’s the only gift that I can give them – this. It’s the only thing I know of that will always be useful and needed. It is, as an aunt, the only job I can hold to as real and true. To teach resilience.