By Grace Gorman, VI Form
Facing the Big Bad Wolf
My mom has always described me as “fearless.” To some extent, when she recounts my fearlessness, she is referring to my willingness to try new, courageous things. However, I also possess another kind of fearlessness – the determination to face whatever comes with strength and bravery. The way she retells it, she first recognized my fearlessness during a family trip to Busch Gardens amusement park.
That day, I was unable to go on many rides with my siblings because I was too small. However, this all changed when we arrived at The Big Bad Wolf. This ride was notorious for being the fastest and most thrilling at the park, and no matter how much my mom tried to convince me that I should not go on it, I was determined. Despite measuring tall enough to ride, right before stepping into the suspended seat, my stomach dropped, filling with fear and uncertainty. Nevertheless, I proceeded and, with my mom sitting next to me, we climbed the long, steep track. As we were hurled through the air, my mom screamed, “Gracie, are you okay?” I joyfully hollered back, “I want to do this again!”
From that moment on, I have been considered the most adventurous child of my family. At four years old I gleefully jumped off the high diving board at a local pool, at eight years old I began riding horses, and last year I snorkeled in the middle of the ocean, where I swam right next to a Barracuda and touched stingrays. While my mom might use these examples to describe my fearlessness, these are not the moments during which I consider myself to have been the most fearless. My most fearless times were after my sister died.
Annie was my best friend and closest sibling. She was born with a serious heart defect and was constantly in and out of the hospital. When she died, she had just turned eleven and I had just turned five. From the moment I learned that she passed away, I felt utterly lost. My life was altered forever. From the small things we did together, such as talking endlessly through dinners and having daily visits during her recess block at school, to the larger impact of having my constant companion gone, it was a loss for which I was never prepared. As a five-year-old processing the death of my sister, living without her became my biggest challenge and remained so for a very long time.
I was therefore very young when I learned that life does go on, whether I am ready for it to or not. Returning to my normal, daily routine after Annie’s death was challenging. The help of family and friends made the transition into this new life easier, but a lot of the strength I found came from within myself. Slowly, over time, everything got easier. I learned to deal with the pain of her death and to use it to make me stronger. From this, I have learned to bravely take each day as it comes, remaining true to myself and making choices that are best for me.
Thus, my definition of “fearless” differs from most others’. Most view fearlessness as only the physical meaning of the word, such as going on a terrifying roller coaster or swimming in the middle of an ocean. Instead, I see fearlessness in the emotional sense, as facing pain and hopelessness in the most unimaginable of situations, and finding a way to keep moving forward—adjusting and overcoming the obstacles that lie in the path.
Grace Gorman is a VI Form day student from Sudbury, MA. She enjoys reading and swimming.