The Warrior’s Crown
I’m a fighter. At least, that’s what I’ve told myself over the years. I fight in the sense that I won’t let you down or I will not buckle under the external pressures of life. I will not be deterred. I will do what needs to be done, what must be done. But would that persona translate to battlefields of armed conflicts, prolonged emotional trauma or my own physical suffering? I’d certainly like to think so. But I’ve found, for me, that these emotions tend to get channeled into reverent admiration and profound regard for the warriors who actually do engage on these battlefields. I may have certain qualities of a warrior, but I’m not the person on the front lines. I’m the medic, the strategist, the supply chain manager who are all committed to the fight but typically removed from live fire situations. And so, I have come to develop an innate respect for those who battle on the front lines, day in and day out. Some chose to be in the fight with purpose. Others were thrust into this fight, not of their own accord, but they are contending nonetheless.
For many of you with a chronic illness, you spend most of your days on the front lines engaging the enemy. I have seen the effects of this combat firsthand. Seven years ago, my wife was the unknowing target of biological warfare, stealthily ambushed by a would-be eight-legged assassin. Worse yet, she was in a tactically poor defensive position, unaware of an immunodeficiency disorder that left her even more vulnerable to this type of attack. Shell-shocked and paralyzed, she became a prisoner of war in all respects. She was stranded in her illness, behind enemy lines. Numerous rescue missions were plotted by doctor after doctor, all ending in spectacular failure. Some even suggested that her prison was of her own doing. It wasn’t until an experienced special forces commander got involved that she was medically rescued from the cruel grip of her captors. And though she was no longer behind enemy lines, the battle yet raged and the enemy pursued her. Each time, her commander tended to her wounds, gave her new weapons and sent her back in the fight.
Today, her war rages on. And each day, I watch as she goes out to war. She is engaged on the battlefield of her own mind, body and soul. On the particularly violent days, I ask myself “why does she choose to go to war” and “why has she been drawn into this war in the first place?” And the answer is so simple: There is something valuable to be won, something necessary to be conquered, for self and others. She will be the first to tell you that this war has stripped her of false identities and provided her with a powerful new voice to the hurting. She, undoubtedly, had been chosen for this mission. Even though war was thrust upon her, she did not back down. In fact, war produces something else those of us in the fight need: HEROES. Click To Tweet Persistent warriors who lead the battles, endure the assaults, inspire the troops and know that taste of victory. Even more so, heroes are necessary so that others new to the battlefield know how to fight, know how to win. They are the ones who now rescue, comfort and train. It is there, in this community of men and women fighting as one against chronic illness, where strength, hope, and understanding abound.
Let me tell you, my wife is one of the fiercest and most tender heroines in the fight today. She’s at the forefront of the battle while simultaneously training the newest entrants to this conflict. Her words supply healing and understanding to so many, where needed. She clutches the lost and tells them they are unseen no more. These are the victories that are most precious to her, the jewels in her warrior’s crown. And I am honored to aid in her mission.
Just like her, I applaud and honor all of you who are fighting similar battles, who struggle to hold on to today much less embrace tomorrow. Finish today’s battle, tend to your wounds, accept physical aid and receive healing in the company of your fellow soldiers. For you are battle-tested, you had what it took and you have an army of warriors ready at your side for tomorrow and every day thereafter.
Ryan, lover of Star Trek and caretaker to the chronically ill. (amazing husband to Stacey)