Am I a coward?

June 20, 2013 at 7:18 pm | Posted in Daily Life | Leave a comment
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Image courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons.

I was really inspired by Rachel Johnson’s last article in The Big Issue about bravery.  She was prompted to write the piece following the horrendous events which unfolded in Woolwich last month and the utter bravery shown by Ingrid Loyau-Kennet, the woman who got off a passing bus to help Lee Rigby and found herself talking with the men who took his life from him.

I tweeted her to tell her I felt inspired to blog about bravery.  She said she would be honoured.  Honoured?! That role was mine – I felt privileged that she had replied.  And I felt chuffed that I’d found myself in this situation in the first place after a chance encounter with the article, not usually being a Big Issue reader – I had been on a charity shop spree and decided to use the last on my change on a final good cause.

So, the subject was that of bravery.  How many of us would have got off that bus?  I for one know for pretty much sure that I would have remained in the safe confines of the bus.  I think I’d call the police from a safe distance.  I find myself more of a nervous person since having children, wanting to keep them away from danger.  Or using that as an excuse?

Rachel recounts some scenarios when she had to be brave – during her husband’s liver transplant for example.  Her husband, also a gallant man, chased a burglar wearing nothing but his birthday suit.

I’ve been wondering if I’m a brave type.  I was getting a bit disturbed by the fact that I’ve never done anything heroic.  I can’t recall a time that anyone has said to me – ‘you’re such a brave woman Catherine’.

I think though that I am pretty useful under pressure or in a crisis.  I quite like change and I also like to be needed.  A good combination when other people around you need a decision maker I suppose.

We’d been in the Maldives on honeymoon for two days when my husband’s step-dad called saying we needed to come straight home.  His mum had suffered a major stroke.  Ok, so I smoked a lot whilst trying to get us off the remote island via sea plane and onto a flight via the most useless insurance company I’ve ever encountered.  And yes I cried when we checked our bags in to be told there were no seats together.  It worked though, a loitering manager took pity on us newlyweds and rearranged things so that we were together.

I sorted a car as we’d sold ours, we moved in with my in-laws and I cleaned, shopped, cooked and rallied for three weeks.  Well, it was raining in the Maldives and their house really needed a good tidy up.

Another family related saga – the night before our best friend’s wedding, the then boyfriend of my sister-in-law was caught kissing another girl in a bar by my husband.  Husband being the best man at the wedding the coming day and the remainder of us happy smiling guests.  Needless to say the happy and smiling part took a little wine but I think I was the supportive shoulder that my sister-in-law needed that day.

I was totally not brave in the Birmingham nightclub when a bouncer pushed a drunken reveller into me at six months pregnant, throwing me across the floor.  My friend, a paramedic however, was, as I shook and blubbered and demanded to be taken straight to hospital fearing that my waters had broken and the baby would have to come at 27 weeks.

I did grab my four-year old and press him into my body, turning him away from a herd of inquisitive ponies on a family walk last New Year’s Day.  Maybe I was overreacting but I find cows and horses to be unpredictable and very suspicious.

But what really is brave?  Taking a risk?  Playing it safe?  Being a parent?  Being alone?  Being with a lot of people?

After Jessie J shaved her hair off I considered doing the same to raise money.   But I never did.

I’ve never saved a life but I think that hopefully I’ve pushed myself to be a better, more loving, kind and generous person.  I always talk to strangers.  I’ve helped a lady with a bloody nose sitting by the road instead of driving on to my yoga class.  I’ve taken a man home when his mobility scooter ran out of battery and the garage wouldn’t charge it.  I’ve collected a frustrated man from a bus stop and tried to catch it up after he was left running and waving for it to wait.  I’ve helped a parent find her lost child in the supermarket.  In Kaula Lumpur I felt helpless and spoilt seeing the many desolate amputees trying to stay alive on the streets and barely managing it.  I gave them change but didn’t do anything brave.

I’m left wondering, does being helpful qualify as brave?  Or what about doing something that scares you?  I read out a blog post about OCD to a room of 300 bloggers one year.

I’ve also done an abseil in the windiest wind I’ve ever encountered to raise money for SeeSaw, a charity who supports children who have lost their parents.

Maybe I haven’t had my calling yet.  Maybe one day I’ll find myself having to pull someone from a burning building, stop for a traffic accident or god forbid find myself caught in an act of terrorism.  If I do I’ll remember the things I’ve seen others do and try to do my best.

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