What is a hero?
I keep asking myself this over and over and over.
I know about unsung heroes, super heroes, anti-heroes. I explored the morality behind anti-heroes in popular media here in this article, if you’re interested.
But what is a real hero?
Heroes that have a mortal thread
I think about my entire life. I think about everyone in it. My friends, neighbors, bullies, partners and family. I think about how I’ve impacted their lives and how they’ve impacted mine.
I’m writing this as an open letter for you to read, because who I’m writing to may never read it.
I think about who has touched my life the most. Who I’ve spent the most time with to possibly make a positive impact to them in some way.
I’m going to talk about fatigue now.
I’m sure you’re wondering why I’m switching to that subject.
All my life has been passed in times of light and bursts of inspiration, dreams and of course, times of depression, emotional fatigue and anxiety.
I appreciate both the bad and the good. The reason is you. You helped me see that the light and dark both are part of the same story, the whole, the sum of all that makes us human.
Being in a state of hopelessness, physical and mental exhaustion and pain, you want so badly to feel something better and get out of that submerged, drowning feeling. It’s toxic and damaging. It has created a storm of my most fearful and most tragic fears and dealings.
That’s how it feels, yet when you are going down that road of such a complicated fatigue, you should have someone to lean on.
Not a perfect, clean cut, shining light of truth and justice.
That’s for the flicks. Hollywood illusion.
Even as I find such inspiration in film and in books, I also realize there is something more real.
The people you love, the people who love you—-and the sunny projection of raw, unabashed—-unconditional love you can project onto others.
My children are my heroes, too. I see them growing everyday into something I know I can be proud of. My oldest, Ismael, inspires my writing and gives me such an empathetic and honest support in general. My youngest, Noah, gives me open affection and so much heart—- as I do for him and Ismael.
When I had to live at Youth In Need as a child, the only person who visited me,(other than my parents) was my best friend who made me smile and forget where I was and what was going on at the moment.
My sister, Jen, who has given me the most beautiful gift ever. Her never ending support of my writing and how anytime I feel like I’m not good enough, the emails of her thoughtful reviews give me just the right amount of energy and inspiration to keep writing. My sister, Julie, who has always been a sweet and funny person, and is always willing to listen and be there for me.
My mother, who never fails to support me and my writing. She has inspired many of my pieces, and always is open minded to read my stories.
My partner and father of my children, who knows me well—-has always been there when I’m at my lowest and given me over and beyond what I ever could’ve expected in support and affirmation.
Feeling low and tired, like you aren’t worthy at all, like you’ll never do anything right or meaningful, it all amounts to a bit of evaporated smoke in the air if the wrong person sees it and says nothing. Even pretending not to see it, or ignoring it.
But you didn’t pretend not to see me.
You heard me and you saw me. The real me. The slightly damaged, weird, crazy, Goth, dad-clothes-wearing (not a real thing I think lol), fanfiction writing fool.
And all along, I knew it to be true.
I trusted you, father.
And every time, you showed me how a hero truly acts. With your kindness and honesty, I saw what it meant to truly be someone I can honestly be proud of.
It reminds me of a letter you wrote me once when I was a kid. It was all written by your hand, on liner paper. Your handwriting was steady, neat and small. It also looked halfway between print and cursive. Something I also do with my hand writing.
And I remember reading it and crying.
You told me how you knew I was having a tough time and how much you loved me. How you’d like to take me and a friend to the movies. How you wanted to take me fishing.
And it sounds corny and a bit dramatic, but that letter saved me.
Thank you, dad. Thank you for being my hero. You taught me the power of kindness, of how a hand written note can change someone’s entire perspective in life for the better. How you show empathy for others, how you use your experience in your heart to share your turmoil and pain, to openly discuss your alcoholism(in which you’ve been sober over 10 years now), to talk to inmates and criminals and give them a new lease on life.
These small things may not seem big or very impressive, but they all add up to something incredibly meaningful to the right person or group of people.
You were never perfect or wildly exciting or had super strength—-not like some Hollywood portrait of a super hero or a Saint, but you were the most meaningful and beautiful hero to me. You taught me about forgiveness and love through God and faith.
Love, your daughter,