When my grandmother found out she had cancer, and that, at best, she had maybe three months to live, she looked at my mother and said, “I want you to be strong.” Then she paused, and added, “…and soft.” It was probably the truest and most profound thing she has ever said.
Out of anything one could say in that moment, I cannot thing of a single thing that would be better. She wasn’t a perfect person, but at 86 years old, at the very end of her life, all of a sudden she just got it. Came to the realization that you can be both strong and soft, and that really, you should allow yourself both.
Grammy died four days later. She was ready to go, more than any of us were ready to let her. And, oh, how I grieved. I loved her so much. We used to write letters, for years, back and forth. I miss that. I miss her. But I think about those words a lot.
Be strong. And soft.
And I try to remember to be both, that’s it’s okay to be both. That they don’t cancel each other out. That they both have importance and purpose. You can remember it too, tuck it away for when you need it.