Emily M. DeArdo

writer

Summer Scribbles No. 7: What is Courage?

essaysEmily DeArdo1 Comment

The SITS girls question of the week: 

How do I define courage? 

I actually think about this a lot. Does that make me weird? 

A lot of people tell me that I'm brave, and I don't think I am. 

To me, courage and bravery involve risking something when you don't, necessarily, have to. Firefights and policemen are inherently brave, as are soldiers. They are putting their lives on the line every day to protect and defend people, and they don't have to. (Well, OK, at least in the U.S., soldier wise.) 

People who save people from drowning, or rescue kids from burning buildings, or the people who ran into the buildings on 9/11--those people are brave. 

I don't consider myself brave. The things I do are the things I think anyone would do in my situation. The choices I've made, I've made to save my life. Choosing transplant wasn't brave. Without it, I'd be dead. Full stop. 

I know that not everyone with CF makes the choices that I've made. And I know that part of me decides to fight even when it might be easier not to. And I guess that's brave. 

Is it courageous to do those things that keep you alive, even when you don't want to do them? Were all those years of PT and nebulizers and giving myself IV treatments in the bathrooms at work brave or courageous? 

I don't know. To me, it was just life. The other option was death. And that's not an option I choose. 

I'm not afraid of death, by the by. I never have been. Maybe it's because I know that something better is awaiting me. (Or at least, Purgatory.) I trust that God's got this. He's going to take care of me. And I'm not really even afraid of dying--because I've done that process. I've gotten, really, as close as you can, I think, and done it twice. And both times,  I've been back. 

But does all this make me courageous? I don't know. I don't think so. Because to me, none of it was conscious choice

This, on the other hand. This works well for me: 

I have never, ever wanted to be defined as the girl with CF. Or the girl who had that transplant thing. I don't so much mind the latter, which pops up a lot. But I am so grateful to my parents for letting me have a normal life. Some CF parents don't send their kids to regular school because they're worried about all the germs floating around. Guys--we have an immune system. CFers can have totally normal lives. I don't want to live in a bubble. I don't want to have a live that's so protected from everything, tainted by fear of what might happen. My identity is as a daughter of God, and not as some weird genetic thing. 

Am I brave? I don't know. To me, all of this just is. And it always will be.