What does it truly mean to be brave? I’m not sure I’ve had many instances deserving of that description. But the other night I witnessed one.
The scene was a Fourth of July celebration with family. My niece, Bethany, was afraid of the upcoming fireworks. She does not like loud noises. Her sweet sister, Bailey, brought some earphones in her backpack and offered them to help.
As darkness approached, Bethany was getting more anxious. If she had it her way, she would go wait in the car until it was over. This had apparently been her routine in the past.
It is amazing what steady encouragement can accomplish. With a bit of coaxing, Bethany sat between her Nana and Papa, each of them holding a hand. They spoke calmly but with firm assurance. “You can do this.” “It’s ok.” “Look at the pretty colors.”
Their patience paid off. After the first several fireworks lit up the sky, she was watching! Not only watching but also smiling. At first thought, this may not seem to fit the picture of bravery. Not without understanding a little more about Bethany.
Bethany, now twelve, was born prematurely. She weighed 1 lb, 5 1/2 oz and was 12 in long. I will never forget seeing her for the first time. Her tiny foot was smaller than my thumb. She spent many months in the NICU, her future uncertain.
Due to a variety of health issues, Bethany has developmental delays. She has learned to read, loves to work puzzles, enjoys playing with friends, and continues to overcome obstacles.
Remembering her tiny beginning brings a different perspective to this question of bravery. Watching fireworks may seem a small thing to most. But for Bethany, it was about overcoming fear. I believe she deserves the title, Brave Little Firecracker!