Warriors know it is not where you die..it is where you live...
The moment Warrior fell I knew I was going to lose him. He did not crumble, he did not waiver, he fell like a giant oak. If I played it back in my mind too soon after I lost him it hurt so much I wished to die. I am small, I could not catch him and as such he hit hard the sound something I will never shake. I hate that part more than anything else and cannot explain why, except that I failed. I failed to catch him and somewhere in my psyche I must believe had I caught him I could have saved him and this nightmare would never have come to pass.
One of the things Warrior always asked of me when we spoke of dying was that he not be buried in New Mexico. It wasn't that he didn't love our rural life outside of Santa Fe, it was that he felt the girls and I would not stay on here if we ever lost him. We met in Scottsdale, Arizona and that was where he hoped to return one day. How poetic on a truly epic level. How beautiful when Warrior went to Parts Unknown he had made it back to the place we met, had our first daughter, and first called home?
When the ambulance rushed Warrior to the hospital in Scottsdale they let me ride with him. I think they knew what I do now and that he was gone without any hope. As I rode I had hope. I prayed. I begged God. I bargained...and yet somehow I knew he was still here but not there...he left his body and I felt him go as I was trying to get him to come back. I felt him behind me and told him, "Oh no you don't!!! Oh no you don't!!!! I love you and the girls love you and we are not done here!! Warrior, we are just beginning!!"...still, on some level I knew. I also knew he was so sorry to leave me. He knew I'd be terribly afraid and rudderless without him and yet he knew more the woman I had always been and the woman he knew I could become and so he went...
At the hospital they asked to admit me because I was in a dress and as I tried to keep him my knees rubbed the carpet so hard the skin was peeled away. I looked down and thought how he never bled and wondered where the blood had come from. The nurse told me it was me. I refused to be admitted and so a social worker brought me alcohol wipes to dab my shins and knees. It burned badly. It felt good to hurt. The pain meant I was still alive so perhaps he was too. I had not yet received the most painful news but I knew it was coming. Shortly the doctors emerged and a nurse handed me his wedding band in a plastic cup. The Doctor told me he was gone and all I said was, "you took his wedding band off...he is going to be so mad at you..he never took it off, ever, we need to get it back on him. He will be furious...". The doctor was very kindly, the nurses too, I knew I was not being rational so I listened to the explanation of his massive heart attack nodding my head as though it were perfectly normal to hear the owner of my heart had had their heart, that belonged TO ME, literally explode. At some point I asked to sit down for a moment as I collected the shattered pieces of my life before facing our sweet girls.
In the moments I sat with bloodied knees and a horrible ache I replayed the life we lived. I was that twenty two year old girl who met him and refused his advances for months. I was his fiancé, his business partner, his wife, the mother of his kids...everything I was was tied to him and with him it had all died. Who the hell was I in a world without him? That was answered as soon as the social worker told me the girls had arrived at the hospital. The same hospital in which Indy was born. As I walked slowly down the corridor to deliver the news that my children's lives were forever changed the same chime rung that they sounded in the hospital when every baby is born, Indy included. At the sound of the chime I stopped cold. I pondered for a brief moment this bittersweet juxtaposition... It is only a single breath between life and death, joy and sorrow. Even then I knew it was not going to be forever about the fact he died...it would one day be about the life he lived.
I was a mother and led my girls through what came next. I grew into the Warrior Woman my husband always knew I could be. My girls were heartbroken to lose their precious father but they were not afraid. In that hospital corridor I promised myself, or maybe him, that I would not fail. I have been true to my word.
I sometimes think about that chime in the hospital welcoming a newborn baby as I was reconciling that Warrior's life had ended. I like to think Warrior's soul past that baby's and he paused to cover this new soul in his warrior spirit. I like to imagine him with his gravelly voice saying, "brace yourself little warrior, this place is not for the weak. You'll face challenges you cannot imagine. Life is hard but it is also beautiful. Love those who are worthy well. Be honorable. Be brave. Be loud, colorful, and memorable. Be a Warrior. Remember while you are down there it will not matter where you died...it will matter only where you lived.".
It is hard to believe we are on the precipice of two years. What I have come to know is the importance of our own personal inner strength and fortitude. I have discovered in myself gifts I did not know I had to offer. It was only through the heat and pressure of great challenge and loss that my OWN diamonds were revealed. This is true for all of us! None of us are less special than the next and all of us are capable of withstanding the unthinkable and turning it into a gift for others who follow. Warrior died in the place he loved and felt most at home but it can never be denied the place he truly LIVED was with all of us Warriors learning all he longed to teach. Today you should know you are fully equipped to face anything head on with your eyes raised in defiant combat! That is the Warrior's way! We bleed, we ache, we feel, we fear and yet we move forward anyway...We know who we are. We know that in our name is the creed which insists we must BELIEVE...Always!!