I've been described as a "strong woman". That can have many meanings...to be strong and female is to be a bitch (said as if it were a bad thing), aggressive, able to withstand all manner of hardship and nonsense...I could go on, but I think you get my drift. This morning, while checking in on one of my writer pals on Open Salon, the place where I'm challenged to sharpen my word-whacking skills; I hit on the definition of strength.
It is defined by Scylla The Rock. Scylla is one of those writers whose prose leaves me weak-kneed and jealous - his writing is so lyrical that I swear a musical score swells in the background as I read. His subject matter however, is thought provoking beyond measure and not for the feint of heart.
Scylla's son was murdered several years ago. His wife is serving in Iraq, law enforcement was his career until he was disabled. Writing is his therapy to keep him here, as he is very vocal about his desire to end his life; because what good is a sheepdog who is unable to guard his flock? The events that have transpired in his life are all directly tied to the essence of who he is; he is awash in grief and survivor guilt. We at OS who have chosen him as one of our favorites are humbled to the core when he gifts us with a post. I worry when he is silent, I drop him a note now and then to say that he's on my mind, and I breathe a sigh of relief when he rings in.
Today however, I stood up and cheered and wept. Today Scylla gave us the best gift one could have receive on a Sunday morning. He is rising, preparing for battle. His son's murderer is going to trial on May 23, 2011 and his post can only be described as a description of a gladiator rising from the dust, ready to live to fight another day.
All this serves to remind me of the nature of struggle. My struggles are significant only to me, and God knows they weigh me down, grind me to a raw nub. But in light of Scylla's difficulties, I have to wonder how I have the nerve to complain. Today his post ended with this:
"I did try so very hard as a father to protect my 3 children. One night I was not there for my son and he died. I will be at this trial. This boy that went to war with my son, who lived with my son and I for months, this boy whom with whatever poor power my soul doth possess has forgiven, this boy that shot my son to death, this boy shall look at me and see my son. He will see Scylla the Rock.
To prepare I must turn my thoughts from death. I've given up the cheap whiskey. I walk and walk and walk. I spend hours now with the heavy iron. I will be off all this morphine in 100 days. It will take my all, it will take my life to travel these thousands of miles, sit day upon day, listen as my son is defamed, sit and control the evil and the anger. Use up the last of my life to give this ending, waning strength for my son. My son, my son. A pain without end. I will be strong. I will be stoic, I will be a rock. I will show the strength of my son. I will be prepared. I will discharge this last duty. I am a soldier with a mission. Though this be my last absolute act. My son needs his father one more time.
I will not fail him ever again."
Today, I am hoping that no one that I love ever has to find themselves in a situation where they have to dredge up this kind of strength. I pray that we are all gifted with small challenges, for challenge is really just a growth exercise in disguise. But knowing that life is what it is, I know better.
I hope that today you'll find someone to stand up and cheer for. I hope that you have someone to cheer for you as well.
And if you think your heart can take it, I hope that you can stop by OS, check out Scylla's journey (this will involve many tears, lots of tissues and walks around the block to clear your head), and send out a cheer and a prayer for him and his family as well.