Noelle Pikus-Pace. Wow. Just wow.
In the note she wrote to herself that read: “This is it. Don’t get scared now.” followed by a smiley face, Noelle Pikus-Pace set the stage for herself; smile–just smile.
I doubt there is a soul alive who watched Noelle Pikus-Pace climb up over the rail and into the stands to share her uncontainable joy over winning the silver medal with her family and friends, that didn’t beam with their own sense of joy while watching. And if there is? That’s an individual who needs desperately to feel love, first from the inside and second from others.
Inspiration is found in beautiful life vignettes, they remind us that we get one spin on this life merry-go-round and it is up to us to make it count. And that does not mean we have to be Pollyanna about our experiences either, in fact quite the opposite, there will always be challenges to overcome, it’s how we face them and what we tell ourselves that creates the foundation to get us through.
Linking arms with people who are willing to go the distance with us also matters.
As I watched, then later read, Noelle’s story unfold I was acutely aware that although she physically rode the skeleton alone, emotionally she was anything but. It got me thinking about the countless athletes who made the journey to Sochi alongside their loved ones. In Noelle’s case her husband Jansen, two children and extended family.
Dig deeper into Noelle’s story and we learn that her skeleton was made by Jansen. In fact it was Jansen who suggested to Noelle that she had what it would take to face her dream of earning an Olympic medal one more time. He believed in her and showed her he was willing to be there every step of the way.
As we all learned through the media, Noelle and Jansen suffered the loss of a child by miscarriage.
Sadly the devastation of miscarriage is often met by well intentioned people with sentiments like this: “Oh you can try again.” and “It’s God’s way.” and “At least the baby wasn’t born then later died from SIDS.” And for those whom already have children? “At least you have_____(fill in the blank with a name.)”
I could go on but I won’t. We heard all those sorts of things when faced with our own miscarriage. Loss of any kind is felt at a visceral level. Death changes us–we will never again be the same, there is no going back to “normal.” What there is, is a new normal. We absorb our grief and carry it. We continue to get out of bed, we honor the life that was and, if we are lucky, we link arms with those in our tribe and we embrace our daily life–changes and all.
As I consider the joy that Noelle Pikus-Pace eagerly shared with her family, and by extension all of the world, I realize we were given a glimpse at the depth an awe of living. It includes every single emotion fathomable and we need to remember it.
Noelle Pikus-Pace sat with her daughter before her last skeleton run and asked her to try and remember that moment, in her words:
“Today is the Olympics. Try to remember what you can because you will be asked about this day for the rest of your life.”
And she will be asked–over and over again. But what she will carry forward with her from that day is something so much more important than the medal. By including their children, Noelle and Jansen demonstrated that their being there in that moment mattered.
Moments, whether fully comprehensible or not, leave us with feelings–in the case of two small children in the Pikus-Pace family–I am going to guess that their parents attitude of love and inclusion will leave them feeling in a way that will surpass that of standing on any Olympic podium out there.
Noelle Pikus-Pace has showed us that when we overflow with joy it is contagious and that is an attitude worth catching. When we share love like that we all win a personal version of an Olympic Gold…
Today I choose to remember that.