This I Believe

This is my essay which ran on our local NPR station's This I Believe series... If I can find the link to it, I'll post it...

This I Believe.

I believe what my grandmother taught me "no hay mal que por bien no venga" – nothing bad happens without something good coming of it.

For years I completely misunderstood this phrase. As an eternal optimist I thought of it as a kind of "when one door closes another opens" kind of thing. Only recently, after a long string of harsh, pounding times-- mucho mal--do I understand the true meaning of my grandmother's dicho.

The first difficult wave came when our first child, our daughter, was born with a heart defect that required open-heart surgery when she was seven months old. Then another procedure was needed when she was two. Given the emotional drain of those years, it wasn't surprising that our business went through rocky times, just when we were struggling with a flood of medical bills. Then my husband started having debilitating back pain that left him practically immobile for months. Eventually the pressures were too much, bankrupting our family, leaving us to start over, bruised and battered.

We've spent a few years rising from the rubble of our dreams and hopes, as through it all I've slowly begun to understand what this saying, this fairly common Mexican dicho, had to teach me. It wasn't about opportunity at all. It wasn't about doors opening. For me this dicho is about what comes into being beyond the wreckage at our feet.

It's not a great sweeping change in my nature, nor is it something that's readily apparent – even to me. Instead, it’s the building of small things, like bits of layered coral, coming alive on the remains of our best-laid plans. Today I face each day with three new abilities, humility, simplicity and gratitude, interwoven into my character. This is the good that has come from the pounding surf of the last few years.

Lo bien que venga, the good that comes, is our ability to grow and adapt. In the shattered remains left by adversity, I've learned new skills to deal with my rebuilt world. As I grow, like the reef that teems with life, which thrives on what has been broken, I learn that there is good that will come. Over time I am better able to withstand the pounding of the waves, and even learn to sway in the beauty of the surf.

I'd be lying if I didn't say I hope we've been strengthened enough, if I don't long for gentle, quiet tides. But my grandmother's voice steadies my heart, I know that through it all, my abilities will grow in the aftermath – y lo bien vendrĂ¡. The good will come.