Challenging Myself to Live Beyond My Fears

Every year for April 27th, I issue a challenge to my friends to celebrate life.  This week will be the five year marker for the day that Phil’s life was taken from him in the most horrific manner possible.  The details are not important, but what is important is that I have learned just how short life can be and that waiting to live my life, live beyond my fears, and games with people are no longer gambles I take.  I live life even when I am terrified….even when I am broken…..even when I can’t see beyond the loss of every dream I had.  The hardest step is the first step, but I have taken a deep breath and confronted my fears.

Running the Boston Marathon as marathon 100 was me facing the demons of my nightmares.  I didn’t want to go back to that finish line and marathon 100 was never supposed to be that race anyway, but then we lost two airmen from our base and the chance to promote military loss awareness was given to me.  I took that leap of faith and I pushed past the physical pain and the soul searing agony of grief and fear to take back my finish line.  I didn’t feel very brave, but I was.  Courage doesn’t mean that the knees don’t shake, that the voice doesn’t quaver, and that I don’t want to hide deep in the safe harbor of the arms of the man I simply adore.  Yet, some battles are meant to be fought through alone.  The warrior’s sword can fall and the warrior can break, but staying down and retreating are an option that I refused to consider at any point in the past five years.  When I fall, I cry, but then I get back up with grimy tear streaked cheeks and skinned knees and I press on even though I cannot see the light.  I have found that it is okay to break and it is okay to be afraid because there are people that offer me a harbor, a hand, a hanky, and a friendly word and smile help me claw may way forward.

April will never be easy because there are so many markers and events that bring me to my knees, but this April something shifted.  It required me taking a leap of faith and trusting myself.  I haven’t done that in many, many years.  Instead of running away and hiding, I chose to toe the line and memories are being created that are starting to poke holes in the darkness.  With the leap of faith, I am making myself vulnerable in my dreams and hopes again, but that is the key.  For so long, I had no dreams and I had no hopes.  I just survived.  Perhaps the darkness can have some light and some good memories and some new dreams?  Perhaps it is okay to feel sorrow over what is gone and yet love what is starting to unfold?  Instead of running, I am standing on the line ready to start.

My challenge for the week of the worst day of my life is to find a word that describes personal growth, do something to celebrate life, and do something to live beyond your fears.  Please post a picture or tell me about what you have done.  I will be posting many memories this week—many of them are stark reminders of the cost of serving and the worst day of my life, but I can honestly say that from the ashes, a better Linda has emerged.  Phil is not forgotten, nor will he ever be, but I have a feeling that he would be darn proud of where I am right now and of what I opened my heart to.  The stark memories are there, but the choices I make to live life, confront my fears, and the choice to be vulnerable are the sparkles in the darkness—the promise of more to come.




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