So as many of you know I had two sisters, Jill and Julie, who were born before me. Yet, tragically and like the blink of an eye they were killed in an automobile accident. The girls were 7 and 8 when they died; leaving my entire family lost and devastated. Despite all the statistics that point to divorce after a traumatic event, my parents defied the oddsand have remained married for 42 years; as they are some of the most phenomenal and resilient people I know. It wasn't until after many years of grieving and soul searching that they decided they wanted another baby, and thus marks my entrance to the story.
So in honor of my sister Jill there is an annual Spelling Bee in her name. I have been told that my sister Jill was quiet and reserved. She had long straight brown hair with thick coke- bottle glasses that hung heavily on her nose. She would often tell my mother her dream was to win the spelling bee when she got into third grade, the grade when you could participate. Yet, unfortunately she never made it. So today my mother and I had the opportunity to go to the Jill Pasko Spelling bee and present the award.
Walking through the halls of my old elementary school was enlightening. Many things had changed but much remained the same. I reveled in the multi-colored paint smears that populated the walls and the macaroni pasted sheets of paper that were plastered on the bulletin boards. In all honesty I had forgotten what it felt like to be a kid. I had forgotten how much I loved going to school.
As I took my seat in the gym, I looked at the participants of the bee. They were squirrelly with so much energy and jitters that it made me want to go run a lap or two for them. Yet as the contest began, I watched in amazement at their spelling skills. I mean honestly just the fact they didn't have the spell check option was commendable. The words were challenging with words like rutabaga, absurd, centipede and affiliation. It pained me to be an onlooker as little boys and girls dreams were being smashed one by one like a fly under a flyswatter. One of my favorite participants though was a little boy who stomped off crying and pouting after missing his word. I initially felt for the kid, but then had to marvel at his resilience as he was laughing and pinching the girl next to him within 10 mins.
Which brings me to the resilience of youth, something I treasure and miss so dearly. When you were little you would fall and scrape your leg and with a kiss you had magically been healed. Yet, one thing I have noticed as I have gotten older is that the bounce back period seems to be a little longer. Our elasticity to the disappointments that life hands us are not as easy to recover from. We are only left trying to reassemble the pieces of the person we once were. I look at my own life since recently I had an incident with one of my attending physicians. He said some really awful things about me. Why is it that saying sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me does not work for me anymore? I am forced to hold my head high and move on. Yet, it is easier said than done.
Just like a contagious cold that is going around, I wish I could just stock up on zinc in order to avoid any pain I might experience from disappointment and tragedy. Yet, I know that this is not an option, as these experiences are the catalysts and shapers of our lives. They define who we are and the essence of our being.
This week just remember hat the sting of the bee only lasts a few minutes. When faced with the unexpected and the unkind try to make a conscious decision of being resilient. Because being able to bounce back from what the world hands us is our only ammunition when under fire.