We all have to confront adversity at times during our lives. It’s inevitable. It’s a part of life. An important lesson is in knowing it is not so much the adversity we must go through as the manner in which we make it through to the other side.
Robin Roberts seems to have had more than her share of adversity to confront over the past few years, and especially the past few days.
I am a dedicated viewer of Good Morning America (“GMA” for those of us who can’t imagine getting up weekday mornings without Robin, George, Josh, Sam & Lara). A few weeks ago Robin Roberts disclosed to her viewers she has MDS, a rare and dangerous condition that apparently has come as a result of the battle she fought and won over breast cancer a few years ago.
WHAT? Our beloved Robin hit with another serious illness? She will be confronting more adversity, more chemo? The bravest of the brave, and most transparent of reporters who shared her entire journey through breast cancer, knew it was how she traveled and shared that path with the public that could draw attention to the cause and save lives.
We have another “bravest of the brave” here in our own area – Linda Hurtado. She is the health reporter for our local ABC affiliate in the Tampa Bay area. I am an avid viewer of ABC Action News and have come to embrace many of the staff as an extended family, working together with them as we combat domestic violence. But, in 2011, just as Linda was working on her spot for their annual prime time campaign, “Taking Action against Domestic Violence,” with a judge who is a breast cancer survivor, she learned that she, too, had breast cancer. With enough tears being shed to overflow Tampa Bay, we watched and listened as Linda announced her diagnosis and how she would be off the air for a while. Amazingly, she shared pictures through the process on Facebook. We sent thousands of well wishes to her, encouraging messages, inspiring photographs and sent her the love she so dearly deserves. Today Linda is a voice speaking clearly and loudly, drawing attention and sharing valuable information about breast cancer awareness. She gives the whole terrible disease a face – a beautiful face, with a glowing smile. I don’t know how, but she sustained that smile for the most part, and is now back on air, full of life and passion to bring our area to a place of activation to fight breast cancer right along with those currently suffering from it, mourning those it snatched from us in death, and celebrating the lives of those who have overcome it.
Robin Roberts had breast cancer. At such a level of celebrity exposure, she was gracious to share her fight, her faith and her friendships with the entire world. She made a difference in bringing more Americans to understand the importance of breast cancer awareness. She beat it. With it being Robin Roberts, I don’t think many were surprised. She usually does win when she takes on any assignment, even such a life assignment as breast cancer. Then came the announcement she has been diagnosed with MDS. It’s complicated, and difficult to pronounce the name given this monster disease. But, once again, with all the grace, dignity and charisma she is known for, Robin decided to document her story, live it out loud, and be real. That’s just how Robin Roberts rolls. What else would you expect from the daughter of a Tuskegee Airman and a mother who was the first American of color to oversee the State of Mississippi’s Board of Education? She comes from strong timber.
This week, as Hurricane Isaac was ravaging her hometown area, on Thursday morning Robin Roberts announced to those on the other side of the TV screen there had been a change in plans. Friday was to be her last day before taking “sick leave,” although she never mentioned “sick.” Robin and her sister, Sally Ann, appeared to discuss with her doctor the process of stem cells and bone marrow transplanting. Once again, Robin Roberts opens a door of awareness and knowledge, as Team Robin begins to call upon America to become donors. . . and save lives. But, why Thursday? Robin and Sally Ann had been summoned to Louisiana, to visit Mama one more time. Lucimarian Roberts was on the last leg of her journey. She was headed home. This beautiful, talented woman of strong faith was finishing things up and completing her journey. The destination was at hand.
Robin Roberts made it through the floods, the raging currents, once again overcoming the odds and meeting her goal – spending those last moments holding hands and most likely singing hymns, sending Mama Roberts on home in proper fashion.
The name, “Robin Roberts” and the word, “adversity” seem to be used in the same sentence a lot these days. She is accomplishing something so many of us desire to emulate. I know it is my innermost prayer. Like Lucimarian, like Robin, the desire of my heart is to establish a legacy. . . one of faith, grace, inspiration and tenacity, that I will be proud to leave behind when I complete this journey called “life.”
You are right, Robin, life is a journey, and we know our destination. The journey will hopefully leave many footprints in the sand. Some of those footprints will be our own, leaving a sound path to be followed by others, and especially by the next 1-2 generations. Oftentimes, though, there will be one set of footprints left during the times we were being carried. Oh, had we not been held in the Everlasting Arms, we surely would not have made it.
But our destination? Yes, we know that quite well. Even though I have never met Robin Roberts, we both know the difference between the journey and the destination. So, Robin, you go climb that mountain that has placed itself in your path. We will see you back soon, and I look forward to getting ready for work each weekday, hearing your voice, seeing your face, sharing your laughter. Know you are being embraced by the love of an entire nation and the Everlasting Arms. I can’t imagine what you must be feeling and thinking, with all the adversity life has thrown at you in such a short period of time. But, with you, Sally Ann and the rest of your family, I lift my arm and wave to Mother Roberts, shouting as she goes, “See ya at the House! Tell my Mama I send my love, and I’ll see her in the blink of an eye.”