Sisters-In-Arms: A Short Story
Updated: Jun 5, 2021
She had so much power but never seemed to recognize it, nor wield it with much care, until the very end. She was 55 years old and 65 pounds when she died but she hadn't gone down without a spectacular fight. Strength, after all, was rarely embodied by muscle. As we sisters-in-arms gathered around and watched our commander take her last breath on the battlefield, I recognized and accepted that, though she may not have taught me how to live exactly, that day she certainly had showed me how to bravely die.
We never talked about it. It was an unwritten rule. Why didn't we talk about it? I wondered despairingly after she'd lost the battle. Why didn't we talk?
Once, just once, a few long days into it, I had summoned the courage to ask her if she was sure she wanted to keep fighting. It really did seem hopeless, whether we acknowledged it or not. Her guarded blue eyes that hid so much pain met mine and she said simply, resolutely, "I want to live, so I fight."
It was such a powerful, simple statement from a weakened, weary woman. It was seared into my memory, my heart, forevermore. It marked the very first time I saw her really fight. And the last.
She was broken long before that struggle. She was lost to me and my sisters decades before we were even born. She remained an army of one, fighting so many demons but refusing any help. I watched her despondently from the sidelines for a long time. Then, when the sky suddenly began to crack and fall in around our heads, I was finally propelled into action, though not exactly called by her to the front line. I swallowed my fear, my pride, my ego and I picked up a sword anyway and I stood beside her. I am proud to say that my sisters did the same.
Side by side by side we stood. She was no longer an army of one, but of many, and I pray she did not feel alone as she fell on the battlefield that day.
Looking back many years later, as I am in the thick of the fray, I have an epiphany. She did, in fact, teach me how to live. She taught me that it was harder, braver, bolder to give and accept love than to turn away from it. She trained me to speak up, stand up and fight for my sisters and daughters. She explained to me clearly but without any words that life is hard, and we can do hard things. We can absolutely do hard things. Most of all, she inspired me to recognize my own power and to wield it very, very carefully.
I am scarred and battle worn like most now. I am certainly not unafraid but I want to live - truly, passionately live - and so I fight.