Many people have told me that they feel for me and don't know how I do it having a special needs child. I think it would be very easy to fall into the poor me hype if I believed it, but the fact is....I have never felt anything but blessed where my little guy is concerned. God and I talked a lot when David was in the NICU those first few months. As he lay between life and death day after day....I realized that I didn't care what his health issues might turn out to be, I just wanted my boy to have a chance at life. I have been nothing but grateful for each day of his life since. It was adversity that definitely changed me for the better.
Adversity, pain and even suffering are often the things that teach us the greatest life lessons and open our eyes like they have never before been opened. These things are humbling and often wash the grains of selfishness, feelings of self pity and attitudes of entitlement from our sight. They open us up to feelings of gratitude and appreciation for just what we do have. Overcoming adversity in life is what helps to grow a deep inner strength that will serve us well and often in the future.
Monday night all of this kind of came home to me while watching Dancing With the Stars. I have always been a devoted fan as dancing has always been my secret ambition, forget that I have no rhythm, skill and I was blessed with two left feet. Still though, I have watched true ugly duckling feet emerge into light, airy, delicate swans on that show. It gives me hope. This season though, the show seems to be filled with people who are dancing to overcome, fight or just out-run adversity. Some seem to be trying to find what they once had...but lost, others want the world to see them differently and still others are standing up and facing adversity straight in the eye and fighting back. Probably the two most amazing are Jack Osbourne and Valerie Harper. Osbourne is the son of Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne. Osbourne was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, another autoimmune disease that could eventually leave him wheelchair bound and even take his life. Now though he can dance and he intends to make the best of his time on the show. Funny how that Osbourne family kind of started out as the dysfunctional family we tuned into to laugh at and make us feel better about our own dysfunction. Now though.....they are growing up (all of them) and giving us reason to cheer them on. High five Jack for fighting back!
The other star who has to be the comeback kid story of the year is Valerie Harper of Mary Tyler Moore and Rhoda fame. Earlier this year Harper was given a cancerous brain tumor death sentence with only a couple of months to live. Today, some eight months later her disease seems to be in remission. On researching Harper, I found that her doctors feel that it is not if the cancer comes back but when, however they have no time frame on this and she doesn't seem to be wasting any of that precious time on self pity or what ifs. Instead...she's dancing. Her words were profound when she talked the other night about when she was diagnosed and told of her prognosis. Her first thoughts were "Why me?" Then she said, "Why not me?" She has a wonderful marriage, kids and career. She had really lived for 72 years so why not her? Now though, with her living past her expiration date (as she joked) she is going to do what she thought was unthinkable a few months ago. She is competing on DWTS! Amazing!
Neither Osbourne, Harper or any of the other stars competing this season are working the pity angle. They are there to prove something to themselves first and the rest of the world second and whether they stay in the competition for two weeks or make it to the mirror ball, they will be winners in the fact that they faced their adversity and stepped out of their box. I applaud them all.
Lets face it. We don't get out of this life without some kind of pain, suffering or adversity. They are life lessons....sometimes on how not to do things, sometimes on how we treat people and how they treat us and sometimes....it is just a lesson in bad things do happen to good people so pick yourself up, dust yourself off and maybe like Osbourne, Harper and the rest.....just put on your dancing shoes!