Let’s admit it. Life can get us all down sometimes.
We work too hard. We struggle to pay bills and make ends meet. We worry about the kids and our families and that strange thumping noise coming from under the hood. We’re jealous and angry and stupid sometimes. We’re stressed and tired and sore. Some days, we just can’t seem to shake that damn headache looming right behind our eyes.
And then we pick up the paper or click on a Facebook share, and we read about Safy’re Terry.
Safy’re was 5 years old in May 2013 when someone set fire to her house, killing her father and three young siblings and leaving her with horrible burns to her face, legs and hands.
Few of us could even imagine enduring close to the degree of physical and emotional pain that’s been heaped on the shoulders of this tiny 8-year-old, many lifetimes’ worth more than anyone should have to endure.
And yet she smiles.
She plays with her friends. She runs around laughing and joking like any other kid her age. She gets excited about Santa Claus. When a TV reporter puts a microphone under her chin, she enthusiastically, politely, shyly answers their questions. And when the mail truck pulls up with Christmas cards for her special tree, she turns to her aunt and beseeches her not to cry.
People from around the world have responded to Safy’re with overwhelming generosity, sending her not only Christmas cards, but gifts and money and special messages.
She has — through her spirit and energy and zest for life, especially in the wake of her tragic circumstances — awakened in us the spirit of the season, the spirit that everyone talks about this time of year but which so often eludes us when we’re drowning in our own malaise.
Through the joy she shares with those around her, she reminds us that we’re not the worst of the worst off. Through her courage, she reminds us that there are other children who have experienced tragedies, other kids who live in poverty and in situations they didn’t create and don’t deserve, and who struggle to make their way. She reminds us there are many other people, adults and children, who need the spirit and generosity she’s awakened in us to help lift them from their circumstances, even if just for a special day.
And through her gratitude for all she has, she reminds us about the goodness we possess in ourselves, sometimes worn on our sleeves and sometimes stifled under our everyday pressures and woes.
Just when life is getting us down, someone like Safy’re comes along to remind us that we, like her, have the choice not to let it.