When I was young,
you lived with two dogs in a teepee in Eastern Washington
and did tae kwon do

I watched you break boards with your feet and hands
and marvelled that you were not afraid to live in the woods alone

You crewed helicopters that flew into the thick of forest fires
and hiked miles into danger to dig firelines

As a young forest service ranger,
you once spent the night watching over a dead body by a mountain road
a story which sends chills down my spine even now

You took me on my first backpacking trip
and a few miles in, we met some men who warned you
that you ought to have brought a gun
You told them we would be just fine
and confidently led my little brother and i past them and down the trail
and i believed you
although i confess i laid awake to listen for bears

You taught us how to start a fire with one match
and instructed us in the ways of ponderosa pine,
how it smelled like vanilla if you leaned in close.
(which is still the first thing I do when I cross paths with one)
you pointed out how the pieces of bark fit together like a puzzle
forming layers of armor in a forest fire
and I marveled at the wisdom of a living thing that knew hard times would come
a tree that could stand in the midst of an inferno
shed its armor
and survive.

You seemed fearless to me,
a Warrior amongst ordinary people.

Later you built a home with your hands
brought twins into the world
went to grad school
ended a marriage
and found a new home.

I am 31 now, and my son is sleeping in the next room,
and as the coldday afternoon light refracts off the windowsill
I find myself thinking of you.

I know now that fearlessness is not living without fear

but rather:

facing it

and though you are less often on the fireline these days
and spend more time helping someone with their homework than you do
practicing martial arts

you are more Warrior now
than you have ever been
in my eyes



Filed under Family, motherhood, outside, stories

10 responses to “warrior

  1. teresa mccann

    Thank you for starting my day off with a thing of beauty. xo

  2. as always, your writing moves me emotionally…a lovely tribute.

  3. This is stunning. She is going to be so honored when she reads this. You hit the proverbial MegNail on the head. Took my breath away.

  4. I am so deeply honored that you think of me in this way, Sarah, and that you took the time to write this beautiful piece. I’ve also temporarily lost my ability to breath as I read your words – my eyes are wide and I feel a little stunned. I think of the memories you recalled here; my recollections looking back are that these were just things I did because I thought they were the right things to do, not because I was trying to become a warrior or face fears. It’s funny how, throughout life, we find ourselves doing what we want to do, need to do, and have to do, and then find that the sum of all these actions have created a person with some degrees of perseverance, wisdom, and fearlessness. I hope that all of us have the capacity to become warriors in our own lives. I know I live among many in my family (yourself included).

    Thank you, Dear Sarah. I love you!


    • sarahalisabethfox

      You summed it up— you weren’t trying to be a warrior, you were doing what you though was the right thing to do, which really seems like the essence of warriorship to me. Your convictions, your willingness to follow your heart into the wilderness and do what was right, your humility and your laugh and your presence in my life over the last three decades have been touchstones for me, just the way they are, amplified, for Galen and Cheyenne. Love you heaps, Auntie Meg, and I’m excited to catch up soon. Know you are often in my thoughts and in my heart.

  5. Barbara Barry

    Dear Sarah,
    What a honorable tribute to Meg. I share your deep admiration, wonder and respect for her wisdom, strength, tenacity, bravery and guts!
    This is especially poignant on the eve of Cheyenne and Galens 11th birthday Sunday. Twins at 40!
    Meg is one of my heroes and I love her laugh and hugs so much.
    Thanks for your beautiful description of her,
    Love you,
    Auntie Bee

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