Invisible Battles

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Jesse Owens’ words strike a chord of truth. What battles are you fighting within yourself? Maybe you struggle with making ends meet, as Jesse Owens did later in life. (For a brief biography on Jesse Owens, watch here.) Maybe you find you are not living up to your potential. Maybe you feel threatened by someone. Maybe you don’t feel comfortable in your own skin. Maybe you are dealing with loss that others have forgotten.

As you consider the invisible battles you fight, please be aware that others around you are fighting their own invisible battles.

Everyone struggles. Struggling is part of life, and–as we work through our struggles, we become stronger.

Still, the struggles are hard. They can seem never-ending.

I heard recently of a middle school student who chose to take his own life due to the weight of his invisible battles. I was saddened by his decision to take his precious, young life from this world.

This morning, I heard of a dear friend’s passing following a three-year battle with cancer. She was an angel to many–always concerned with strengthening and uplifting others. Personally, she supported me with a listening ear and a loving heart through my busy and exhaustive years of child-bearing. I mourn for the loss of the beauty she brought into the world and am grateful for the joy that I feel because she was part of my life. She seemed to be sensitive to those who were fighting invisible battles themselves, lending a helping hand even when she wasn’t well herself.

Working through our own invisible battles–whatever they may be–allows us to grow from our struggles. Let us remember to have hope, to carry on, and to count our blessings. Though we may struggle, we can find the supporting hand of others to help us. We can reach out to help, which lightens our own loads that we carry. We can be honest with ourselves and others regarding the way we feel.

As we face and work to win our invisible battles, we will be strengthened with a victory more precious than gold medals, more powerful than fame, more valuable than anything monetary.

We will feel whole.

Breast Cancer Awareness

I couldn’t let October pass without a tribute to the noble women who have fought breast cancer and their devoted caregivers, families and friends who have loved and supported them in their fight.  Here is a piece I wrote early this morning, following a dream that I will post more about tomorrow:

I lean her tiny frame against my chest as I see her thin reflection in the bathroom mirror.  I know she will not ask for help. Still, she has become so weak, so frail, that even the buttons on her shirt have become difficult for her. I slide my arms around her and begin at the top, pulling, twisting, and pulling each button through the stitched hole.  As I see her profile in the mirror, I recognize the wear on her face, the shine of light from her head.  I pull her shirt down off her shoulders as the water in the shower streams across the tile, beats rain-like patterns on the glass door. My hands move across her back to unhook her bra, and I slide the straps off her shoulders, remove the prosthesis. I run my hands down her shoulders, across her chest, her collarbone, her space where her breast used to be.

The scar from where she fought like a dragon feels smooth on my fingertips. The new form is different, yes, but beautiful still. Even more beautiful.

I help her climb the small step into the steam of the shower. I look through the glass, not bathed in water vapor, and I see her again for the first time.

These moments catch me off guard. I feel like I am the one who should fight this monster for her, but she has had to walk a path through darkness and pain I may never know.

My eyes begin to well, but the tears are not full of loss for her breast, her hair; instead a soft smile covers my face as a tiny drop streams down my cheek. I still have the most important thing to me in the entire world.

I still have her.