When I was in grade school, there was a little girl in the younger grades that had a profound impact upon my life. She was a dear, dainty little thing, gentleness personified. Serena had been born with a hole in her heart and, even with surgery, she was not expected to live past the beginnings of elementary school. She could not run and scream and play like her classmates but seemed content to swing and smile and watch others have such boistrous fun. I remember the way she would sit next to me on one of the benches before school would start, such a quiet presence. I remember the way she would take my hand and ask me to push her in the swing, always answering any question of her well-being with a sweet “yes” or “fine” and acknowledging ANYTHING done for her with a mild “thank you”. I remember her little hugs, her body light and delicate in my arms but the light in her eyes bright and her smile sweet.
Serena never complained, never whined, I never saw her cry, even though one would proclaim her justified in doing so. She knew her condition, she knew her limitations, but even at that young age, she didn’t let them limit her spirit. She showed each and every one of us the meaning of a peaceful spirit, a grateful heart, and a loving life.
The year that Serena passed away, we dedicated the yearbook to her, and I wrote the dedication to this beautiful, delicate, steel-strong little girl. She taught me the truth that softness and gentleness are not weakness but immense courage. Our school world was very different the following year, a bit of light having gone from our lives. But peaceful little Serena has never left my memory or my heart. I miss you, darling, and thank you!