Warriors Know History Matters...
"Love never dies...but someday we all will." - AE
October 8th Mattie and I drove up to Santa Fe Ski Basin to look at the Aspens change color and mark two and a half years since losing Warrior. I shared a little more history of the love story I had with her dad. I told Mattie for the first time the exact moment I knew I was in love with her father. It's a story for another blog...but it's a good one. Mattie laughed at how "Daddy" it was that he made me fall the way he did.
I did not comment to her but I softly smiled to myself as I passed the turn off to Soaring Eagle Ranch where we said our unbroken vows one January morning at sunrise. It's a good story; the story Warrior and I share...it is the greatest part of my history.
On Easter Sunday 2016 I was looking over Facebook comments smiling when my eyes fell on a name I could not believe. It was too unusual a last name to not cause pause so when I pressed the profile pic it was no surprise it was, indeed a dear, long lost friend from my junior high days...John Pecoraro. John and I were the "two peas in a pod" kind of pals. We met in seventh grade and were fast friends as well as partners in crime. We wore double polo shirts (collars up) and top siders in our preppie youth although we were all about Pink Floyd, Scorpions and later Metallica. We conspired together often....meeting to TP friend's houses.
We snuck out with groups of our friends laughing the way only good kids who are testing the limits a tiny bit are allowed. Of all my guy friends EVER John has this nostalgic filter that halos our golden days. He saw me as a creative mover and shaker in the making and I witnessed his larger than life lust for world take over. We cheered one another forward and made the other laugh. John made my youth feel like the best John Hughes film.
Once I left my hometown for Arizona State I rarely went home. After my mom left I did not return again except to show Warrior the house I grew up in on the way to Monterey on his first birthday we spent together. After that trip I did not return again until I helped induct Connor as the inaugural recipient of The Warrior Award. I remember standing backstage with Paul and Steph and telling Paul how poetic it felt to be in my hometown to deliver this first speech since I had never spoken publicly. Paul has a really genuine grin and with his head shake and smile asked, "Is there ever anything in your life you do not create at an epic level...?".
🤔I've actually sat with this question often since asked and the answer seems to be a categoric.....
I may have written this to you Warriors before but it is my goto analogy...If there's a scene in a movie that sums me up best it's Princess Bride where Wesley is climbing hand over fist over the sheer cliff to battle Montoya. Wesley remains polite and good humored while he climbs to another battle. Above him lingers probable death, beneath him it is assured... so he climbs on...that is what I see in every challenge...probable is less threatening than guaranteed so...climb on I do!!!
Delivering that HOF speech in honor of Warrior was the ultimate homecoming as well as the symbol of a sword fight gone my way in the face of possible/probable death. I put hand over fist and with a pounding heart walked onto stage to speak of my husband's death for the first time publicly and you all cheered me. It was easier this year. I smiled and laughed and you all roared. My goodness...I'm so lucky!!!!
This was why the sight of my dear friend, John's name in April meant so much to me (Nikki and Bret from ASU I see you too! You got MARRIED!!! eeeeeee :))))!) John is part of my history woven into the woman I became. I didn't think that was true in a lot of ways...I thought my history started and stopped with Warrior until I saw John's sweetness toward my life, history, and my forced next chapter.
He was so sorry for the loss of Warrior and proud of us Warrior girls and our commitment to the Warrior legacy. When I clicked on John's page the breath left my body. Looking back at me was his face, mostly unchanged, young and beaming, and then there was his story...a diagnosis of ALS and his advocacy of fighting the disease. I cried. I sank into our living room chair and cried. I know something about ALS. I know what a savage, ruthless disease he is up against. Here was my dear, sweet pal shaking the hand of Hilary Clinton in order to make a difference as his OWN legacy to search for a cure. God damn sometimes life is so devastatingly hard.
John and I fell right back into our friendship as though no years had gone between the bridge of teen to adult. He sent photos of old classmates. It was a thrill to see familiar faces through my phone especially Lauri, Shari, and this unicorn of a girl, Tracy. I described Tracy to my small girls as the young ladies I hoped they would be in their lives. Sadly, John told me Tracy had been battling cancer which led to me reaching out to her with this note:
"Hi Tracy (i?) (I don't know if you kept the i--we changed our names in Spanish sophomore year but I'm guessing not since I didn't keep the y (dayna) in Dana lol ;)
John and I reconnected on Easter this year and it expanded the joy of my life in huge ways. Today he told me you have battled ovarian cancer and it keeps trying to come back. I actually started to cry. Not bc I don't have full faith you will kick its ass but because you have no idea the impact you have had on how I've raised my girls and in part, how fabulous they are because of you.
I was so afraid to have girls because I had such a hard time with them growing up and I was not always the nicest one myself. When I found out my first daughter was on her way I decided I would raise her in the mold of Tracy Dabler. I told her when she was old enough to understand about you. I described you as the most beautiful girl in our school but also truly the kindest. I told Indy you were never intentionally cruel to a single person all the years I knew you. I described how every group from jr high to HS loved you and how you had jokes with everybody, never leaving anyone out. When you were voted homecoming queen I truly think nobody on the planet has ever deserved the honor more. Your election was because you were genuinely beloved. I told my other daughter, Mattie, the same thing when she was big enough to be impacted.
Can you imagine you were this unicorn 🦄of a girl✨ in their upbringing? You were the girl they thought of when they needed to be kind when peer pressure said to ostracize a friend. You made me want to raise girls to be people another woman would want to point to one day and say they hoped their daughters would grow up to be...
Thank you for being something like that to me. I always admired you in such profound ways. I hope this battle has not dimmed any part of your light. I'm guessing it has not bc truthfully I'd bet my last buck on you since you possessed a grace and humanity back in a day nobody was mature enough to have such a possession.
You will be in my thoughts and prayers. You live in my girls too...isn't that sort of something lovely. I think it is bc I've had you in my life all these years without you even knowing it.
Dana Warrior (née Viale)💗"
I would never have shared this note publicly except for the fact last Wednesday I got the news this magical woman left the planet. I feel like such a beautiful soul SHOULD be publicly celebrated. She was the true star in life. I never even considered cancer could steal Tracy from the world...the only solace I take is she MUST have brought as much light and love to every person she touched as she did me. I am so glad I took the time to tell her the legacy she left and that others will know she lives on in my Warrior Girls. You Warriors often tell me the impact my husband had on all of you...it's important to realize it is not only those with fame who shape the world for good...we are each the givers of light if we choose to be. Tracy Dabler chose to be and my heart aches for those she loved most who lost her...she struck me as truly golden.
I believe we must always tell others their life has mattered in profound ways..I believe we must live each day with passion, verve, and a grateful heart. I believe we must remember to speak praise and truth and kindness to those who matter in big or small ways in our lives...I believe we look with unbridled hope to the future, but remember our history...ALWAYS!!
🌹This blog is dedicated to my dear friend, John Pecoraro who is fighting ALS like the Warrior he is...let's help him!! ❤️❤️❤️
...💖and in loving memory of 🦄Tracy Dabler,✨who's light, loving spirt, and 💜pure heart will surely make her heaven's brightest star🌟.