courage found in soft gentle packages

“It is cancer”, three soft words that launch the quest.  There is no magic sword, no vial of healing, or shield or magical armour to wear.  There is a dragon to be slain, but the quest begins seeking courage, knowledge, and a way through this dense forest of doubt.

I have seen physical courage, willing yourself to make the tackle, even though your shoulder burns and your arm is numb from the previous collision, or pedaling gamely on after a bike crash, with your entire body  a scab that the tiniest of movements pulls upon.  These are but courageous moments, with a start and then the finish line or the referee’s whistle and ensuing revelry.

Even so, bravado doesn’t help you standing at the edge of the forest, dark and looming with no way through.  You crave a guide.

I searched, and found many in such unexpected ways.  Soft gentle guides with raven hair, or golden curls, or none at all.  Women who day after day take one step more, through pain, and sorrow and loss.  Who remain steadfast and hope beyond hope, steeling themselves with their eyebrow pencil and their lipstick.

This was new to me, this enduring courage.  This finding small joys where ever they might appear. This encouraging other like me, in their misery.   The nights must be full of silent tears, but each morning they bravely don their role of mothers and daughters, and wives, and friends.

Such brave gentle women.   How can I be any less brave.