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Finding Resilience

Finding Resilience Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, photographs a bruised rose to illustrate resilience.After I weed-whacked flat the little rosebush in the back yard, I remembered how I’d planted it over a decade ago with the kids, to honor our Omi Rosie, my strong-willed grandmother who had moved her family out of Hitler’s Germany in 1938. Unlike the family, the rosebush had never thrived. So, intent on reclaiming its spot for more lawn, I thwacked the scrawny plant to smithereens with the weed-eater, and then stood sighing over the strafed remains, sure I’d murdered it.

Two weeks after the attack, a small splash of red in the new lawn caught my eye. The rosebush. It had survived and was producing buds. One was blossoming brilliantly.

It’s a gift, I told myself. My first inclination was to attribute the small miracle to the ghost of my daughter who, in life, had gifted me red socks and red sweaters. But when I got close up with my camera, I recognized the astounding sheer resilience of the plant. Scuffed up and riddled with holes, it was a formidable survivor. It seemed to have a mission, like my Omi Rosie. It was gutsy, like my daughter who had partied with abandon despite cancer constantly clobbering her. It was scrappy and scarred. From all of life’s poundings. Like me. And like me, it was still standing.

I don’t know if one can learn resiliency or practice growing it. Or if it’s something you only discover when your world’s been shaken upside-down. Wherever it comes from, resilience is the thing that allows you to rise from the rubble when the sky falls. When I thought I had nothing to live for, it slowly sprouted from deep inside (or maybe from out of nowhere) and filled my emptiness with hope.

Creeping on hands and knees, I took a hundred shots of the rose. It is not beautiful. But it is truly—badass.