Recently, I attended a dinner and awards ceremony at the Georgia Aquarium, in Atlanta.
I was seated next to a lovely, elegant lady and during the course of the evening we learnt more about each other’s stories. She was originally from England and had joined the British Foreign Office after leaving school. She had been posted to various embassies around the world and her last posting had been to Jamaica where she had met her husband. Jamaica was now her home although she did make frequent trips back to England.
I had always read about people who joined the Foreign Office and had postings all over the world – it always seemed so romantic and fun – so I was thrilled to be sitting next to a ‘real life lady’ who had lived that life.
What made a far bigger impression on me, however, was her unquenchable spirit.
She showed me her hand and then relayed the story of how it had almost been chopped off.
She and her five year old daughter (the daughter was now in her thirties) had been driving along the coast in Jamaica and had stopped to buy sea food from a road stall. As she stood outside her car a man tried to pull the rings from her finger and she automatically lifted her arm up to protect herself. She didn’t even see the weapon but as she looked down her left hand was dangling loose, two thirds of the wrist had been cut through. The man had literally cut her hand off.
She managed to climb back into the car, slam the door and tell her daughter to put the vehicle into gear, and then, she drove her and her daughter back to the safety of town.
To me this epitomizes an extreme form of bravery. A testament to the strength of the human spirit. A testament to how much we can do if we choose too. To be attacked, to have your hand literally chopped off and to be able to still take control of your life, to continue to function and to fight to overcome disaster.
The surgeons managed to attach the hand back to the arm and she is still able to use the hand although there are certain movements that are limited.
What amazes me the most is that she holds no bitterness or resentment towards the person who did this to her.
She chose to let go of the negative emotions, to focus on being thankful that she can use the hand and to continue to live her life fully. She chose not to live in fear.
I feel so honored that I had the opportunity to meet Josephine Bogues and to hear part of her story.
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”