I Believe in the Simple Extraordinary

Vanessa - Anthem, Arizona
Entered on February 11, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: family
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I believe in heroes – everyday people accomplishing the extraordinary. By extraordinary, I don’t mean feats of superhuman strength or projects with worldwide affect – I mean the simple extraordinary. The simple things that people – these heroes – do that affect others with immeasurable magnitude. My sister is a hero – my hero.

I think I’ve know this since she was born, but I didn’t fully realize it until she graduated from high school. There is a ten year gap between us so I have the good fortune to be able to watch her almost as if from above – not from that base perspective that we usually see our siblings from. To me, she isn’t the person who stole my clothes growing up (a three-year old doesn’t have much want for a 13-year old’s stuff) or tattled on me to mom. To me, she has always been a miracle; but when she graduated high school, I realized that she was other people’s miracle as well.

On one of our last days together before she left for a college some 1300 miles away, I read her yearbook. It was chock full of signatures, like all the yearbooks of poplar kids, but what touched me was that most of the deepest and most beautiful passages came not from her friends but from her teachers. As a parent, I’m used to seeing “your son/daughter (enter name here) is a pleasure to have in class, blah, blah, blah.” In my sister’s yearbook, though, were specific memories from her teachers. Reasons why they would genuinely miss her, explanations of how she had touched their lives and even made them better teachers. How overwhelming – here was this child, this teenager who had come to them to learn and in the end, they had been taught by her.

They had watched over her for four years and marveled in the simple things that she did. How hard she pushed herself in class, how many volunteer projects she took on, how she could excite and involve even the most stubborn of outcasts, how her kindness and enthusiasm reached every corner of a room. I knew all of these things about her, but it filled me with indescribable emotion to see other people knew them too. I cannot wait for her to grow up because I am sure that every single life that she touches will be better for having been touched by her. She embodies the ripple in a still pond – moving ever farther outward until the whole pond is alive with movement. I know that she will continue to do small things with big impact. I believe that she is a hero and that heroes exist all around us, quietly accomplishing the amazing every day.