Pollyanna. Remember her? That bright-eyed, bushy tailed princess of a girl who had nothing but good to see?
I remember, (with fondness now) a time where I was “accused” of being a Pollyanna. I was a new-ish teacher, a little naive to the complexities of life, but confident about what mattered most. I guess people saw that. Whether it was about positivity, bright perspective, or an overall love of life, people apparently noticed my attempts at remaining hopeful about things.
I realize now that maybe my determination to be positive was actually a gift from God – something He knew all along would be necessary in order to help me survive.
Cancer itself wasn’t necessarily the hardest thing I ever went through. Honestly, it was the aftermath of cancer. I don’t think I’d ever felt so broken in my life. Re entering “real life” with all my new challenges felt like walking into a dance floor with a broken leg. And I love to dance.
The aftermath of surviving a crisis is much different than the crisis itself. It’s one thing to lose your hair on a cancer floor with roughly 30 other bald patients around you. It’s another thing to struggle with thin, patchy hair when you’re surrounded by heads of healthy, normal hair. And then to realize you’ve not only lost your hair, but also your lung capacity, your ability to have kids, your muscles, and time. For the first time, my ability to be positive and hopeful was deeply challenged.
Today is different. Today I’m feeling positive most often. And I also feel… stronger. Sometimes I forget how far I’ve come. (With immense help from others of course). 3 years ago I was living at home trying to recover. I had few social opportunities, much less dating ones. I’m certain I worried about never traveling again, or being carefree, or living happily on my own.
But today I actually own a house. I saw Norway, Denmark and Boston this year. I’m dating an amazing guy, and I just finished a successful first day of school. Things are better in so many ways. Guess what? The trial dial turns! It turns out there is an end to certain things- maybe not all, but some. Yes, there were times where the Pollyanna in me lost the vision of good things to come. I’ve learned that’s okay. Struggling is human. Painful things have brought gratitude and a certain sweetness to my current life.
If you haven’t seen Pollyanna in a while, go watch it. Remember how she had a terrible accident? Remember how bitter she was at first? Certainly she was the most undeserving of such a fate, but that wasn’t her focus. In the end, she chose happiness over despair.
Even though there isn’t a sequel, I’m positive if there was, we’d be watching a girl still making good things happen, both for her and others. I believe she represents more than a couple hours of feel good entertainment. She represents this truth :
Tragedy isn’t the end, unless you allow it to be.
Thanks Pollyanna, you fictional character that came about long before I was born. Your legacy lives on!