Sunday, June 26, 2011

When life gives you lemons...

Have you ever known one of those people to whom life gives lemons, yet they refuse to let it define them? I'm always in awe of that and the grace with which the human spirit is capable of facing incredible adversity.

My brother was one of those individuals, and today would've been his 56th birthday. I've written of Jim before, as he's never far from my thoughts.

In the prime of his life, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor that would eventually take his life. For nearly a decade he fought through multiple surgeries, treatments, and hope followed by setbacks.

But, that's not what defined Jim.

What defined him was that in the midst of all of that, he retained his sense of humor, remained ever-optimistic, and never wavered in his faith, enjoying life each day just as he did before that fateful diagnosis.

Over the decade of his struggle, I never saw Jim blame or question God (I can't say the same for me). I never saw him wallow in self-pity or even allow himself to complain. If you asked him how he was doing, without pause, he shot back “GREAT!” That was his answer before the tumor, and it remained his answer until the very end.

The author Arthur Golden once said, “Adversity is like a strong wind. It tears away from us all but the things that cannot be torn, so that we see ourselves as we really are.”

My brother, Jim, was one of those rare souls who died as he lived...triumphant. And, that's what I remember on his birthday. Though life gave him lemons, my memories of Jim will always be sweet.

-The Grocer's Wife