To read about how the tornado has affected our family from the beginning, click here.
Think of the woman you know who is battling cancer. Who has lost all of her hair, whose cheeks are a bit sunken, her skin paler, her body lighter.
She's a fighter. She gets out of bed every morning, carries on with her day and faces demons many of us know nothing about. Cancer is trying to break her spirit but she won't allow that. She tries her best to keep a positive outlook, to overcome everything that has been thrown at her.
Is she beautiful?
Think of the woman you know who has battled back from domestic violence. Whose eyes have been blackened, whose bones have been broken, whose teeth have come loose.
She's a fighter too. She gets out of bed each morning. She carries on with her day and faces demons many of us know nothing about. He tried to break her spirit but her spirit fought back. She got the help she needed to leave and safely start a new life for herself. She came back from everything life threw at her and is still here.
Is she beautiful?
Think of the woman you know raising all those children on her own. The one who hasn't fit into her pre pregnancy jeans since she had her first baby. Who rarely has time to put make up on, buys her clothes at second hand stores, and counts coupons in the grocery line to ensure she has enough money to feed her family. She's never owned a pair of stillettos in her life and her work out routine doesn't take place at the gym - it consists of running after all those kids.
She's a fighter too. Having not slept through the night in years, she still gets out of bed first every morning. She carries on with her day and as a single parent, faces demons many of us know nothing about. People judge her, look down on her and her children, and whisper behind her back. There is never enough money to pay the bills and her vehicle is falling apart. Society works to break her spirit, but she won't allow that. Her children are loved, fed and well mannered. They make good grades at school and say their prayers before bed each night. She sacrifices things for herself, in order to provide for her children.
Is she beautiful?
Think of that town you know. The one that was hit by an F3 tornado. The one whose major employer and downtown core were hit so hard. Whose trees were uprooted like twigs. Whose residences were demolished, and whose people were left without homes, vehicles or jobs. Whose people were left traumatized, wounded, devastated.
That town is fighting too.
Its community has banded together to support eachother. Its businesses are working to reopen. Some residences are being rebuilt, roof truss after roof truss pointing toward the sky. Its social service agencies are working to try to help those that ask for it, and to find those that aren't asking. People from far and wide have made donations to help, because they care. New trees are being replanted, people are sharing their pain, their fears, their stories. A tornado tried to break its spirit. Insurance companies try to break its spirit. Judgemental outsiders try to break its spirit. The day to day battles work to break its spirit.
But the people of the town won't allow that.
The people here know that beauty is more than skin deep. That beauty is in the eye of the beholder. That every house being rebuilt is a beautiful thing. That every store that reopens is a beautiful thing. That every cheque that comes in is a beautiful thing. Every tree that grows, every flower that will come back next Spring, every sunset over the lake, are all beautiful things.
That strength is beautiful.
The woman who has lost her hair to cancer, whose cheeks are sunken, skin paler and body is lighter...she is beautiful.
The woman who has battled back from domestic violence and can hold her head high and sleep at night, is beautiful.
The single mom who wears a size 16 and doesn't even own lipstick...is beautiful.
Scars aren't ugly. They tell your story. Give you character. Help you to remember where you come from, where you are going, and the road that is taking you there.
A seven year old little girl recently heard her town referred to as "an ugly mess". "Ugly?!" she cried indignantly. "This town is not ugly".
Across town, a seven year old little boy heard that this town is not considered to be "The prettiest town in Canada" anymore. He looked at his mom, confused, and said "Yes we are!"
Do you know who gave Goderich the title "Prettiest town in Canada"?
Queen Victoria. She said that, when she was shown a picture of the Port of Goderich. A loooooooooooong time ago.
She said that, having never been here, never meeting its people, never shopping at the stores, seeing inside the schools, the theatres, the churches. She never attended any of its festivals or actually stepped foot on its beaches.
She said that, knowing nothing about the spirit within its residents.
This town has scars. They are out there, for all to see. Just like the scars of the Cancer Survivor, the Domestic Violence Survivor, the Single Mother. Those scars aren't ugly. They tell our story. They help us remember where we have come from, where we are going, and the road we are on to get there.
Beauty isn't about appearance. It isn't what's on the surface that counts. Beauty comes from within. It's in your spirit. The way you live your life, deal with the hand you've been dealt, and overcome what's been thrown at you.
Two Seven year olds from opposite ends of town get it.
Is this town beautiful? Pretty?
Yes we are.
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