By Patrick Cossel
Stevenson Newspapers 

My Friend: Stoic, Courageous, Inspiring


Working as a reporter has given me the opportunity to cover a great many things. When I was a cub reporter, I was pretty eager to cover everything. I do mean everything.

While covering an inspirational speaker, I became enamored by one of his motivation/self realization techniques – spending 10 minutes each day in the “Classroom of our Mind.”

Today, while driving across the Hi-Line of Montana, alone, I figured it was a good time to do just that. Truth be told, I make it a point to turn off all music and distractions whenever I travel alone for several minutes. I find some self-reflection is always a good thing.

I never know where my mind is going to end up. I tend to bounce from one thought to another in a very tangent running amuck type situation.

Today, my round-about thinking led me to my high school days and one friend in particular.

We were close, her and I. Not the boyfriend and girlfriend close, but your average boy and girl high school friendship. We talked quite a bit and shared information on books, comics and classes. We had a good time.

I remember the day she came to school absolutely heart broken. Bothered that my friend was down, I inquired as to what was the matter. She told me, with tears flowing, that she had been diagnosed with lupus. She was 16.

I hugged her and told her I knew what the disease was as I have a friend who has it. She was thankful she didn’t need to explain it to another person. It seemed her days were spent explaining to people all manner of things. No, she was not contagious, no they can't get it by using the same desk as her. No, she wasn’t any different than anyone else.

Throughout our next couple of years of school I watched my friend handle all sorts of things that no kid should – the medicine made her hair fall out, slowed her metabolism, made it dangerous for her to participate in P.E. Made her feel different.

But she wasn’t. And we, her friends, did everything we could to remind her of that. She graduated with an A average despite everything she faced in school. The most I could muster was a C average.

Today she is married with no children – the treatments made it so she will never have kids – and leading an otherwise normal life.

It’s been more than 20 years since I have seen my friend. Sure, we comment on each other’s posts on Facebook and the such, but we have not been in the same room, nor heard each other’s voice. Still, I can’t help but think of the stoicism and the courage she showed growing up. It was, and still is amazing. I think the same of any child that overcomes anything and excels. It is their actions and their can-do spirit that should be an inspiration for all of us.

It is a terrible thing to see kids afflicted with any sort of life threatening illness or injury. It is gut-wrenching, heart breaking. When I see it happen now I hug my two boys a little tighter and offer thanks, to whomever for everything I have.

Patrick Cossel works in the central office of Stevenson Newspapers, an owner of The Courier, and visited Glasgow this week.


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