By Michelle Cottom

One Of My “Michelle-isms” Is “It Is What It Is.”

I find myself saying that a lot, because there are many things we simply cannot change. I believe we must deal with what we are given and not dwell on could have, should have or what if.

Randy Pausch says, “That is what it is. We can’t change it. We just have to decide how we’ll respond. We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.” I think this is as good a description as any of the process we go through in accepting reality.

When it comes to accepting reality, it can be difficult to understand why things have happened the way that they have. When Asia died, I remember wondering what good could possibly come from that situation or why she would have been born only to live such a short time. However, I soon found that it was wrong to think of her life in those terms.


The value of our life is not determined by the length of time we spend on earth. Instead, it is determined by what we do in that length of time. For Asia, her short life touched thousands of people, and her love of learning inspired us to set up the memorial scholarship that bears her name. This scholarship has been the means for several deserving young people to pursue their dreams of education. In that sense, Asia lives on through them, and we have been proud to sponsor their dreams.

Of course, this does not mean that there are not times when I still fail to understand what happened that morning or the fact that Asia will never be with us again. However, in reaching a stage of acceptance of this grief, I am better able to respond to her death in a positive way.

We really cannot change reality. We can ignore it, deny it or fight it, but that does not change it. What we do have control over and what we can change is how we choose to respond to life’s tragedies and triumphs. By choosing to respond in a positive way, we honor the memory of those who are gone and keep their memories alive.

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