Duane was a cute little baby. He smiled a lot and made everyone happy with his big grin. There was just one problem. He was born with a hole in his heart and thus the lack of oxygen made his tiny face blue. So they called him a “blue baby.” After a few years of being blue, Duane had an operation on his heart that turned out to be successful. His face turned from blue to pink and Duane enjoyed life as best he could. He could never run and jump and play hard like his friends, but he participated in games enthusiastically from the sidelines and joined in at his own pace. He became the friend that everyone liked and wanted to be with.
When Duane was ten years old, tragedy struck. He was on the way to attend his brother’s wedding, travelling by car with his father and older sister. A severe head-on collision took the lives of Duane’s father and sister and the occupants of the other vehicle, his about to be married brother, as well as two wedding attendants. Of the six passengers involved in the accident, Duane was miraculously the only survivor.
Now, faced with Duane’s early life challenges in overcoming the effects of heart surgery followed by such a tragic event at the age of ten years, many of us would not cope well at all. Just pause for a moment to reflect on how the instantaneous loss of father, brother, and sister or any three family members may have affected you.
But here’s what happened for Duane. He carried on through the teen years and into adulthood with the help of his mother and another sister. He completed school and obtained a job that allowed him to stay in his community. He developed friendships and enjoyed the many miracles in life – in that his life was somehow a miracle itself. He inspired others with his resiliency and his inner wisdom. He became known as a friend who had great advice for those who shared their problems. Duane’s best advice was often simply put ““Just get over it!”
I like Duane’s advice. It fits well with child and youth care work and with so much “relational stuff.” It cuts to the chase without offending and cuts through theory and jargon. Although we need to be sensitive to many factors when dealing with children and youth who have been hurt, and need to be cautious about telling them to just get on with life, there are those moments when “just getting over it” is required.
These are some of the times when I plan to use Duane’s advice:
When I am feeling slighted by a friend – Just get over
When anyone complains about how unfair life is – Just get over it!
When a colleague whines about the unfairness in the workplace – Just get over it!
When those around me dwell on the good old days – Just get over it!
When I am near people with a negative attitude – Just get over it!
When others tell me about grudges from times past – Just get over it!
When I hear complaints about “the terrible kids these days” – Just get over it!
You see, Duane’s advice works because the follow-up he would expect is: Do something about it.
Duane died last week.
This feature: Gompf, K. (2005). From blue to pink – Just get over it! Relational Child and Youth Care Practice, 18, 3. p. 70.