She is, and always has been, complex. When she was little, she’d scream over little things as if she were being killed—things like losing teeth or seeing squirrels. But she’d transform into a super hero over big things—like diving to the bottom of the deep end to save her 18-month-old brother when he decided to go for a swim.

We endured crucifying glares from onlookers, including friends and family, when her anxieties, anger, or fears were on display. Some judged us child abusers while others judged us lenient. We often wondered whether she would ever be able to face life on her own.

When she transformed into the independent butterfly she is now, we were stunned. In the end, she has taught us more than we ever taught her about facing life’s challenges with grace, dignity, and courage. Two years ago, she put on her wedding dress and walked confidently down a petal-strewn aisle. Someday she’ll impress her children riding that unicycle, and they’ll know their mom is one of the brave ones.

“How do you get off that thing?” I ask her.

She laughs.

“You just fall off.”