This I Believe

Mandi - Springfield, Illinois
Entered on October 20, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

The Power of Personal Strength

As I approached my sophomore year in college, I had a friend and co-worker pass away from a rare, but serious lung disease, which took its toll on her life in the short period of just six weeks. Her name was Jennifer and she was an inspiration to me through her selflessness and ability to empathize with others on a daily basis. She was also an example to me because she coped daily with the struggles involved in raising a ten year old son with Down Syndrome and Autism, as well as a highly active three year old son. At times like these, I would like to say I believe in the power of faith, but I cannot rely solely on it because it does not provide enough closure for me. Instead, I believe in the power of personal strength, which I like to identify as one’s ability to cope with life changing situations and tragedies.

One day at work, Jennifer needed assistance with a patient who was always rather difficult to perform dental procedures on. As if I was not already nervous enough having to help with a patient I knew was rather difficult to work on, she looked at me as if I were incapable of completing the task. However, Jennifer did not let the patient’s attitude and gestures interfere with my ability to learn. Instead, she grabbed my hands and guided them to their correct locations and talked me through the situation, continuously telling me that I “was doing a good job. Everyone has to learn sometime. That is how we get better at our weaknesses.” By her keeping a positive attitude, she instilled a sense of confidence in me that I can still look back and reflect on today.

No one ever realizes how short life really is until it is too late to make any changes. On August 1, 2007, Jennifer passed away at the young age of thirty-seven. I have learned to deal with the emotional stresses of life, but I have not been able to move past the death of a loved one. Rather than to try and understand why people have to go when it is their time, I rely on the power that no one else can see or understand—my inner personal strength. The force from my inner personal strength comes from me alone and the life experiences that I have been through, while faith comes from a superior being and their power of intervention. By relying on my inner personal strength, I am able to cope with the situation to the best of my abilities. At times when no one else can empathize with my feelings, I look deeper into my inner personal strength and I always find comfort knowing that Jennifer is in a much better place than I, a place where she wanted to eventually be.