The heroes we fail to see but will always recognize

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When we are in elementary school, we were often asked to write a story about someone we admired and looked up to — a hero.  I don’t recall who my story was about these years later, but I recall, even at that young age, wondering if I really knew a hero and if I did, would I notice them as being a hero?

And if I was asked today to write a story about my hero, it might look a little like this…

My hero is the homeless woman who struggles to find hope as she trudges through life with an unknown future, doing her best to raise two children on her own, swallowing her pride and walking with shame as they are served by caring strangers in the shelter.  Unbeknownst to her, her desperate cries she tries to hide at night softly sing her children a lullaby they will never forget.  Her hands shake with nervousness hoping her children will not follow in her footsteps, only wishing she had a chance to do things differently.  May she never lose sight of tomorrow and the promise still left in it, so that her children never forget who they are, regardless of where they live. 

My hero is the veteran who suffers nightmares and cold sweats because of bearing witness to human carnage, loss of life, and destruction that words will never truly be able to describe.  He does his best to fit back into a normal routine, knowing full well that he will never be the same as he was before he deployed.  He stands firm and strong to provide for his family, protect his country, and serve knowing that his life will be placed in harm’s way for another human and without any regard to his own safety, would pay that ultimate sacrifice without hesitation. May he find comfort in knowing that he is supported at home and that his selfish acts are never forgotten by those other service men and women he made sure came home. 

My hero is the young married couple who has had to endure the worst of life — to lose a child due to unexpected circumstances beyond even the best doctor’s skills.  To watch them devote so many waking hours, holding onto their dying child’s hand, grasping at hope, and any small progress is better than none.  To hear their wails of “Why?” that never get answered and maybe they will try again.  Believing they can hear my thoughts, I quiet my own selfishness, knowing my child is alive and well.  May they find acceptance in the lessons left after the tears have dried and the “normal” has resumed, never forgetting the blessing brought upon them. 

My hero is the business man straddled with responsibility as he tries to salvage a great company tarnished with poor performance and potential scandal.  Because he is unsure of whom to trust, he accepts the burden as his own.  He loses sleep and tries to carry on with his family life as if it was “just another day at the office.”  His appetite wains and every step he makes, he is lost in the doubt and fear of failure that may in fact comes his way. May he understand his role as one that was given to him because people knew he was “the best man for the job” and that his character and integrity will stand for itself. 

My hero is the child born different — the one who did not pick to be born early or received an extra chromosome as they were developing in their mother’s womb.  Captivated by life, full of energy, and beautiful beyond all belief, this child makes me happy and fills me joy as he grows his wings and excels in everything the doctor’s told his parents he would never do. May that child teach us all about what really matters in life as he teaches me to appreciate everyone’s individuality, no matter what. 

My hero is the teenage girl who stares at herself the mirror, hating herself and believing that she is unworthy of love, being accepted. and wants to the pain to end.  The girl who walks quietly through the halls, surrounded by friends, who have no idea of the torture she puts herself through every day.  She never sees the beauty within and instead, only compares herself to other girls and what she sees in the magazines.  She suffers through the agony with cuts on her body that no one will ever see. May she take one more look in that mirror and see her inner beauty, her kindness, and her willingness to fall in love with who she is and to never let anything stand in her way ever again. 

My hero is the husband who supports his wife and children working late nights and picking up extra shifts when possible to keep the family fed, the electricity on, and never wants his children to not be able to do take part in something they love because of money.  He is honest, ethical, and places his hopes on a promotion that seems to be just out of his reach.  And no matter how tired he is, he never misses anything for his children.  May he know the lessons he instilled in his children so that they would grow up knowing that anything great in life will not be handed to them — they will have to work for it. 

My hero is the elderly couple struggling to get each other to the many medical appointments and figure out with medicine they can’t live without because each one seems to be higher every month.  The couple that just enjoys having a companion, although now a stranger, because the disease has started to cause memory loss.  As their years wain, so does their strength and their wish to continue to fight what cannot be altered, stopped, or diminished.  May they find comfort and rest in their last years together, knowing their legacy will live on through the generations left behind. 

My hero is the proud wife who is the nucleus to her family, making sure that dinner is on the table every night.  She ensures that the children are bathed, are caught up with their reading for school, and have their bags ready for the next day’s activities.  This woman never takes time for herself, and when she does, she is ridden with guilt as she quickly remembers the cupcakes she agreed to make for the bake sale the next day.  May she always have the perfect Christmas card, smile when she wants to cry, and fight to get through to just another day.  She promises herself that tomorrow it will be different and quietly prays that some day, it will be different.  Her strength is not something that can be taught before she is needed — no, she develops it as it is needed, sometimes, swimming in chaos, drowning every moment she breathes.  May she allow herself time to rejuvenate herself and to never lose sight of her own identity as she maintains the sanity of the household. 

My hero is the young man who struggles to find who he is, afraid of ridicule and shame.  If he only knew how much he is loved for HIM — not because of anything else.  He does his best to act macho around the other boys in the locker room, and even asks a girl out to homecoming.  But just as friends.  He knows deep inside that his worst fear is telling his parents and hope that they will love him still.  May he always find the courage to stand firm in and face adversity with pride and determination. 

My hero is the dreamer — the one that believes that the world is due for a change and will commit a lifetime to seeing that possibility become real.  The dreamer knows no boundaries and consistently sees life in ways that others do not.  When that dreamer take a mere thought and puts some action into it, it catapults others to find their own greatness and inspires them to find their purpose. People begin to take notice and that breeds a complete change in attitude that cannot be held captive and prevented from moving forward any longer.  The dreamer promises us hope, possibility, and inspires us to grow. May that dreamer show strength in times of weakness, show commitment in times of failure, show courage in times of fear, show hope in times of despair. 

I could go on about people who I admire…every day people.  People like you and people like me.  But I hope that no matter who you are or where you are, that you accept that what you do in your life may very well be inspiring someone else to be better than they were yesterday.  No doubt that a hero has crossed your path once or twice, but if you didn’t see them, I thought I would point a few out to you.

[bctt tweet=””Heroes aren’t born. They are created.” – Unknown”]

Michelle A. Homme 2015 ©


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