I have so many thoughts, many ways to try and tell my story; however, this isn’t about me, this isn’t about the road of depression, this isn’t about my goals, this isn’t about a specific moment in time. Instead I want this to be a painting in your mind, a glimpse of the work that a single person felt enough passion for that she took a step, then extended a hand, and has now helped so many more than me to stand...not stand...to soar.
When we wake we take for granted that someday that sun could be gone. We never admit that we know the day may come, we don’t want to think of how that would impact our lives...unfortunately this sun is our loved one. The ones that we hold so dearly in our hearts and minds. Some of these suns are brilliant and bright giving us a strong and healthy connection every day, some are distant and although their warmth is no longer felt their mere existence gives us peace of mind.
The interesting part of this image is when that sun burns out, it is somehow not gone. Yes it has left the horizon, it will not rise and fall ever again; but that once distant source of light, heat, love, pride, gratitude or whatever it is to you is now surrounding you. The sun has gone and you wake now to a raging inferno. Flames that were once love are now anger, despair, depression, hate...an inferno of grief that we have no way to navigate out of. The flames at times are flickering in our face, burning us with every breath we take. Days go by and maybe you find a bit of space inside the inferno to take refuge within. This was a moment for me during the funeral service, but those moments are all too brief and the inferno will inevitably find another source of fuel. Roll call in my case, that will bring intolerable heat once again.
Fortunately I quickly heard a call, a beckoning to move through the flames. This came from a single voice; however, I later found that Her Voice was not alone. Her Voice was much more THEIR voices. The voices of compassion, understanding, acceptance, empowerment, and a renewed faith in yourself. These voices came softly. They came carefully, respectful yet honest, powerful yet with care, friendly and hopeful. These voices gave you everything, giving their time behind the scenes, speaking beyond the confines of the fire’s leading edge. They show you that although this inferno rages with flames flickering hundreds of feet above you, its path doesn’t have to be what you follow. These voices show you that what appears to be a wall of flames miles wide are not what they appear; instead that wall of flames is only as wide as we let it become, and the path this inferno takes can be directed by you within. These voices lift you out of the fire to show you that the wall of flames cannot be seen by many others in your world, that you can contain this fire and you can suppress the flames.
These voices will show you that you can find a way to harness that flame, bring it into control and take it from fear and transform it to a guiding light. Her Voice shows you to take that inferno and ignite a torch, then how to use that torch to illuminate the darkness ahead of you. Yet this voice also gives you a plan, a means of preparation for that inevitable day that your torch will flicker and then suddenly throw an ember back to the forest floor, igniting the inferno once again. However, you will be able to hear Her Voice clearly raising you above the flames this time and you’ll quickly step over the flames and out of the ring of Fire.
Thank you to the faces and the voices, those seen and those behind the scenes, to the friendships and bonds that were created, to Her War Her Voice, may you continue to find the energy and courage to help extinguish the inferno, to walk the trail alongside those of us that lost an incredible source of light before its time.
About the author, Aaron Reed:
My brother (SSG Brian Michael Reed) and I had a hate-to-love-you sort of relationship, where many days growing up were more about how to irritate each other rather than encourage each other. Don’t get me wrong it wasn’t always a physical battle, nor was it a Norman Rockwell scene of brothers helping the other get a kite out of the tree. We were what we were and cared for each other in our own way. I always wanted to be like Brian as I grew up until I entered my adolescence when what I wanted to do was compete against him and took it too far too often.
Brian took his own life on 3/14/16 and it left me completely shaken. Brian had estranged me about 4 years before that shortly after the birth of his son. Unfortunately, I do not have contact with his family and that along with unaddressed issues between us greatly contributes to my pain, guilt, and grief.
I am a Colorado native, as was Brian. and as a way of honoring his memory I host a charity event that incorporates his 8/2 birthday with the fact that he served with the 82nd Airborne and that I live on Colorado State Highway 82. This ‘All the Way 82’ event has helped me focus on the brightest parts of Brian’s past and solidify his legacy within the EOD family.
To learn more about Aaron and what he is doing to bring awareness forward regarding our military families, email: firstname.lastname@example.org