I remember my first day at a summer job during university.  It was on the production line at a brewery.  It smelled like the morning after a keg party which was not very pleasant.  But I soon equated that smell with a great pay cheque as I was making a lot more than my previous student jobs in retail or lifeguarding.

However the very first day was one of the toughest.  That morning at 6 a.m. as I sat eating breakfast, wondering what it would be like to work in a beer factory, a long distance ring jangled the phone.  It was my uncle in Ireland.  He said my beloved grandma had just passed away.

Although we only met about ten times through my childhood when we visited Ireland for a month every other summer, we were very close.  She was loving and supportive and always made the best ice cream wafer sandwiches.

I was devastated.  But I knew I was lucky to have been chosen for this summer job and I couldn’t miss the first day.  Although I cried for about a month after she passed, I dried my tears and never missed a shift.  And I thought about her all the time.

Looking back, it was her grit that inspired me to never give up.  She watched all her children leave home and travel to other countries to find a job or an education. Her once full house became quiet, with only the crackle of the fire or the cows’ moos to interrupt the silence.  But she never lost faith or stopped smiling.  She trusted her children to follow their hearts and travel their own journeys.  And they did.

It is through struggle that we grow.  As Helen Keller once said, “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”

Whether a struggle is about losing someone, starting a new job, dealing with a health issue or letting go of your growing children, the only way to move past it is to walk through it.  And the person you become on the other side will be stronger and more inspired than you ever thought possible.