How Warriors Love

family story

We sat together in that place of no refuge…

Her warrior face showed itself every day of her illness, really it was apparent that Terry has always been a warrior. She held nothing back, asked for no pity, no quarter, made her own path. She would not allow herself to be slowed or hindered by anyone, not me or any other family member. She may have been burdened by fear, but ultimately she always saw her own way forward.

We will all face heroic challenges in our lives, opportunities for our souls to reveal themselves, to move through our darkest fears to find our own light. As a husband the greater part of my marriage was devoted to supporting Terry in this last journey of her life. Not because it lasted the longest or was even the most important, but because it called on the deepest parts of each of us to work together. Calming her as she trembled before the changes her body was undergoing,  we met on the most hallowed ground of our marriage. We sat together in that place of no refuge. She found a way to help me make myself useful there. Thank you.

The marathon is over, now the walk begins.

Warriors can be a pain in the ass to live with. Terry did not have the energy to make things easier for me, but she did make them pretty great for our kids – the real priority. Momma was always in the middle of everything that happened in the house. Her bed was in the living room, which is really the dining room, which also basically includes the kitchen. She was uncompromising with the kids. Watching their progress even as she watched her body fail, insisting I brush hair well, packed lunch on the days they didn’t have hot lunch, sign up for those damned summer programs!

“I want you to marry as soon as you can. I don’t want my kids growing up without a mother.”
“Considerate as always of my needs {sarcasm}, I could use a little time to let go of being with you.”

Warriors make choices, walk down paths that make no sense in our tidy world. They never fit right, are out of step unless we happen to be in step beside or behind them. They don’t always live long, the arc of their lives can look totally shitty. But they are such treasures to walk with, they help us to recognize our own souls when all we really want to do is run from them.

Finally peace.

I felt her happiness when her body touched down on the dirt she would be buried in –  it was like a super-nova. Surrounded by her Mother, children, sisters, spirit friends and my family, she saw her way back to her first and last love, the Earth. Its not a matter of faith for me that her spirit lives on, its a matter of personal experience going back over many years. I look forward to visiting her when she’s had time to transition and I feel like both of my feet are firmly on the ground again… that will take some time.

I’ve slept more in this last week than I have in a year. At some point in the last few months sleep really stopped mattering. There was something in my core that just started showing up. It wasn’t bright, it wasn’t pretty, it was bedrock. Who the hell knows how it got there, but there it stands. It said, “I can do this, what you’re asking of me. Of course I can, you need it, she deserves it, lets go.”

I never thought we’d be caring for her at home after she died. She didn’t really ask for it, just indicated we were not giving her body over to a mortuary. So there she lay, as we decorated her with lavender and sage, as kind visitors came, as she waited to sink into her beloved Mother Earth. And then it came, her first inevitable joke. Terry loved puns.

Pulling back her shroud to reveal her face I saw her nose had made a sharp turn to the right as her body settled. Then in my head I heard her voice: “nose all bent out of shape, eh?”

Warriors have complete disregard for the math of life our age seems so devoted to creating. They don’t often make things better, but strangely enough they seem to know what makes life worth living. They know that inspiration, a bodily sense of truth is worth so much more than even the best rational models. We must tend to our warriors. We must allow the bruises and lacerations they cause us, because they are worth it, because we always need them.

There will be no quarter for you either my love. Just put one foot in front of the other, thats how it works.

There was no coffin for Terry, she was laid in the Earth wrapped in a soft bamboo cloth. She once asked that her body be thrown beneath a tree in the wilderness so the scavengers could be fed. I couldn’t quite bring myself to that, I don’t think the law would like it much either. The grave was dug by hand, so as not to disturb the hillside too much, a group of laborers stood by respectfully while we each fell apart in our own ways. I could see her sitting on that pile of dirt, waiting to be covered, to become useful to life in a new way.

I bent down to kiss her goodby through the shroud. “Just a moment really until I see you again my love… no time at all.”

You’re going to have to break your heart a few more times before its big enough to hold all of this.

The wind was blowing fiercely up the hill as I held our daughter. She wanted to be close, she wanted to be far away, up and down the hill we walked. Her tears were strong. Our son comforted his Aunts who were weeping deeply. At school a few days later one of the Mothers didn’t say a word, just grabbed him, pulled him to her chest until he wept. We are surrounded by saintly Mothers.

Terry knew from studying other cultures and Core Shamanism that ancestors often stay on to watch over us. She worked on that before she passed. “I’m not leaving my kids, I’ll be around.” I don’t imagine anyone on the otherside can stop her from doing whatever the hell she wants to do.

Tadg and I have been working on cutting back the weeds. I take out the thicker ones, we have a lovely grove of wild radish. I was about to head into it with a machete when I started to count the bees. Each plant had at least a few pollinators, some native, some honey bees.

Hell no, this can wait until they’re done, I’m too busy tending to the warrior in me.

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