Veterans and a friend are helping me keep it real. I really don’t have the faintest clue what it means to fight a battle.
I’ve carried a bag weighty with paperwork strapped to my shoulder for a year, but never an assault pack. I’ve taken shelter, but not in a trench. I’ve lived in a basement, never a bunker. Lost a bank account, but never a buddy. For about three hours the morning after the storm, I worried about water. Then Steve rode a bike down to City Hall and returned hauling a 12-pack. We all said it looked like a “war zone” here with the military trucks lighting the pitch-dark, illuminating the wreckage—but it was not. Friends drove, unarmed, into Long Beach and brought us supplies to last weeks. They left, unharmed, and eventually, so did we.
Today as I “fight” for funding to rebuild my home, as I “fight” for aid in paying double the bills with one income gone, I do so from the comfort of a chair. I take a break to express myself publicly and without fear. I am free to criticize the government that has failed to help my neighbors and me. When I go to work in the morning I am able to educate girls like me so that they might someday do the same. I never had to fight for this, and I trust that I never will. So many battles have already been fought for me.
And some can only be fought from within. This weekend, I sat with a friend as she began to draw up her battle plan. From what we know about the deadly invader threatening her life, removing both breasts may be her only surefire defense. Today, a surgeon will help her with the logistics, but she has already begun the good fight. By day three, she was advising others to set up mammogram appointments and to follow through with any slight suspicion. To take enough action to keep the peace within. Know your body well, understand its needs. Listen to and learn from it. Listen to and learn from the women in breast cancer boot camp and battle. Honor the veterans who have been scarred and changed.
To all those who have fought real battles for life and freedom, I offer my gratitude and admiration today. I will continue to do what I must to get back to the life I knew, but I will remember that the life I live every day is whole because I am healthy, and comfortable because of the opportunities won for me through true battle, in terror, with unimaginable sacrifices.
Any wishes and prayers sent my way I offer up to my friend, our country’s vets, and the thousands of suffering Filipinos who still search for water, three days later.