Last week I was asked to speak at a banquet for survivors. They asked me to be the honoree guest and the banquet was called Crazy Courage. The program said inspired by Samantha Light-Gallagher (my book is called Crazy Courage). I cannot express how much it means to have been asked to do this. To see this on the programs was pretty amazing.
I wanted to share with all of you what I read. It is what I think Crazy Courage was about that night.
Hello… I want to first thank the 100 club for honoring the fallen heroes tonight and for honoring myself and my late husband.
On the morning of September 2nd, 2010 I receive a fatal knock on my door. The Border patrol was standing on my door step. They said I am sorry ma’am but your husband died. That day with those eight words, thought my life ended.
My late husband and children’s father was Border Patrol Agent, Michael Gallagher.
Mike was a man of honor, integrity, vigilance and optimism. As we sit here tonight we remember our fallen heroes. We remember their laugh, their touch or the last words we spoke to them. We also feel the pain, anger and many other emotions that came with and after we were told of their death. Over the days, weeks, months or even years after the death of our loved one we have likely experienced a diffused focus, diverted attention and perception or a wondering mind.
But tonight is not only about remembering our fallen heroes… it’s also about honoring those of us that stood behind the fallen heroes. Underneath their badge there was a man or woman that had children, a wife, a husband, sister, brother and parents…they had a life. Many of us in this room stand behind our heroes every day in their choice to serve our streets, cities and country. We watch them leave in their uniforms, ready for another shift of work…telling them goodbye, not knowing that it might be the last time. We continue to push on to honor our fallen heroes and we push on with crazy courage.
Tonight is about Our Crazy Courage.
It’s the strength that each one of us has deep inside. It’s the courage to push past your pride, ask for help and accept the support people want to give you.
Crazy courage is doing what is right for you, doing what you have to when you are in an emotional state that can become self-defeating, when you have lost the passion for life itself. Courage is when you stand up and brush the dirt off and face all the difficulty, uncertainty, and pain by overcoming the fear that has overtaken your rational mind. When you add the crazy to the courage you are adding an intense enthusiasm which will show others that you have a mission to complete, even if that mission is to get out of bed. It is when you ignore the voice that is telling you, you can’t do this. It is not letting those fears and the pain control you anymore. It will give you the strength to surpass all of the weaknesses you may be feeling at that moment. The state of vulnerability you may feel is scary, but if you can learn how to eliminate that and replace it with courage you may have control again. It is what it takes to become yourself again and allows change to happen. Crazy courage allows you to tell yourself the truth. We may lie to ourselves so often that we begin to believe those lies. We cannot close our eyes in hopes that this will all go away. We need to listen to that crazy courage voice inside of us, the one that is telling us we can do it and ignore the voice that may be telling us we can’t. We can take some deep breaths, count to ten, close our eyes and listen to what our body and mind are saying.
So many things can scare you once you feel you have lost control of your life. Out of all the things I had to do, the scariest thing by far was to face my children. To look in their innocent eyes and tell them their Daddy was dead.
I believe you need to face what scares you. You have a lot to face with the loss of your loved one. You may be scared, because you have lost what you once knew as your life. It left when your loved one died. You may be standing there with the new unfamiliar life staring back at you. Trust me when I say you do not have to take a step without support. There are many organizations that are built by survivors like the AZ 100 club, AZ COPS and BP Foundation that will not let you begin your journey alone, unless you want to.
I say give it 30 seconds of crazy courage and you will be surprised by what you are able to accomplish. It takes a lot of crazy courage to face those things you don’t want to do, but you have to do them anyway. It’s the courage you use to get out of bed and face the world again. It’s the strength that you find inside yourself to do what is necessary to survive.
It may mean to sit with a friend in silence in a moment of despair or confusion, to stay with them in an hour of grief and bereavement, to tolerate not knowing…not healing, not curing…being a friend who cares.
Crazy courage is supporting people in our lives, to do more than just exist, to help others achieve inwardly what they can show on the outside with a smile or a laugh. To allow others to achieve their own happiness and acceptance. Now I ask you how will you touch others…
There have been several times when I have used my crazy courage to face my reality. One of those times was visiting the crash site. I needed to see the place where Mike had taken his last few breaths, the place where he last saw the world. It gave me back a little bit of the control I was missing in my life.
Crazy Courage is about awareness. When I became a widow I was no longer part of the society I had been before. The one that has a husband, wife and children. My reality was a dysfunctional part of society. At times the only place where I could feel like I could be myself was when I was alone in the dark in the corner of my bedroom crying in the fetal position. It was who I was at that moment, lost, not knowing what to do next and losing my sense of identity. My late husband was as much of my identity as my own self. Now I had to find out who I was now. I began to understand what self awareness really meant. Being okay with the fact that I may not fit into otherness. Otherness is a term I heard in a speech once. It’s the self we create because of others’ perceptions on how we should be.
I took in my crazy courage with each breath, became aware of my reality and became a survivor. It may not be the group I wanted to be a part of in society. But it is a group that I am proud to be a part of.
There are many ways to look at life… to understand why a tragedy happened to you. To experience more than just breathing, to look at your lifeless eyes in the mirror that are stained red from tears. To hear the roll call during your loved one’s funeral, to watch their ashes being lowered into the earth and your child’s little hands scraping the dirt to place on top of their daddy’s urn that is now interred.
One way of looking at it is like this quote I recently heard, it states…”People will ask you the questions ‘how is life treating you?’ But my question is ‘how are you treating life?’ On that your happiness rests”Thank you for your time this evening and may all of you use your crazy courage!