One hundred and ten hours ago I watched my twenty-one year old son hold his wife of ten months in his arms as she struggled to breathe her last breaths and passed into heaven.  Courage.

One hundred and ten hours ago I watched a mother, who has fought valiantly for the life of her daughter for twenty-five years, whisper comfort into her daughter’s ear as she stepped through the gates of heaven.  Courage.

One hundred and ten hours ago I watched a young woman stand at the foot of the bed, wanting with all her heart to do something, anything for her life-long friend, as the angels ushered her into heaven. Courage.

One hundred and ten hours ago I watched a dear friend, who has been touched by loss too many times, overcome her own fears by standing alongside us and buoying us with her love and support as we said goodbye to a precious soul.  Courage.

Those last moments were so very precious, but they were so very hard too.  And it is still hard.  For those first few hours after, there was a numbness. Even now, among the raging emotions and rivers of pain, there is numbness, a dulling of the senses almost, as if the heart cannot bear to deal with anymore.  It takes courage to get out of bed each day, to eat, to join the rest of the world and to close your eyes at night.

Over the past two months I have learnt a lot about courage and I have learnt about cowardice.  I have learnt that courage comes in all different shapes and sizes, but cowardice is universal.  I’ve learnt that courage causes us stand in the face of adversity, not without fear, but in spite of fear.  I’ve learnt that courage unflinchingly faces facts and still dares to hope.  I’ve learnt that courage takes the hard road when everyone tells you to take the easy road. And cowardice?  I’ve learnt that cowardice hides behind excuses.

I have also learnt that when you look into the face of someone who is courageous it exposes your own cowardice.  When confronted with your own cowardice, you then have a choice; hide behind your excuses or rise to the challenge.  Courage is infectious if you are willing to put aside your excuses and let it rise within you.

Cowardice causes us to miss opportunities, to miss life-changing moments.  Cowardice robs us of treasures that cannot be replaced, moments that cannot be relived.  Cowardice erodes our souls, weakens us and causes us to be less.  Cowardice is a choice, but it needn’t be a forever choice.

That is the thing about courage.  It is always there within reach if you dare to stretch out your hand to it. You are given the opportunity to choose courage with every single moment, with every breath.  Even if you have chosen cowardice, courage is still there, like a sheathed sword, waiting for you to draw upon it.

“Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at its testing point.”- C.S. Lewis

When our love is tested, courage is there.  When our faith is tested, courage is there. When there seems that hope is gone, courage is there beckoning us to lift up our eyes and see beyond the circumstances, beyond the pain, beyond the facts.

Courage underpins us, courage strengthens us.  It is more than steely determination, it is more than perseverance and it is more than bravery.  Where bravery acts without thought or fear, courage acts with the full knowledge of the consequences and whilst still feeling the fear.  Bravery acts blindly, courage acts with purpose.

One hundred and ten hours ago I stood helplessly by as a young, vibrant, vivacious twenty-five year old woman courageously took the hand of Jesus as He walked her into heaven.  Courage.  Not mine, but hers.


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The Full Story: A Love Story , Diary Interrupted, How Do You Say Goodbye?

Recommended reading :

The Difference between Courage and Bravery

 Dear Kari

 I Have No Words

A New Angel