I have long stated that I will die free. As a student of history, of the American Revolution, of the Founding Fathers, of libertarianism; it is not much of a stretch for me to state categorically that my plan is to die free. In my pre-Dawn days, my statements regarding dying free simply meant: I would die on my feet rather than live on my knees. My marriage with her expanded the meaning of dying free exponentially.
There are many ways to live which are not “free” some of those we choose of our own free will. Marriage is a restriction on freedom. Contractual obligations make you not free, like your mortgage or a job contract. Hopefully, these restrictions, freely entered into are at worst an even trade of loss of freedom for gain of freedom.
I know in my marriage, the tethering of two souls certainly demanded that I not act in the same way I had when I was single. On the other hand, it was a gestalt event that freed me of so many burdens and gave those remaining burdens, a second set of shoulders to carry them. That was quite freeing in ways I am still discovering a year after her death. In theory, all voluntary contracts that “restrict” freedom should net result actually increase freedom in this or a similar manner.
Some things that were rattling around in my head, jelled when I read this by Sarah Hoyt.
I also realized that Dawn died free. It took cancer, a year with a counselor, a fair amount of work in our marriage and many other things to get her there. Cancer forced her to accept her “tried and true” methods did not work and had brought her to a horrible place. The year with the counselor helped her understand the mechanisms by which she paid dues that were not rightfully hers and helped her develop a method of discriminating between her legitimate duties and those wrongly demanded by others.
In our marriage, we both worked diligently to grow our love and to assume the obligations of the other. In doing so, we helped each other be much freer. It wasn’t always perfect. We often made mistakes, but even those increased our bond as we learned it was ok to err. The mistakes forced communication and owning the error, but in doing that, we learned and grew closer. In seeing they were not catastrophic or love damaging, we became freer to risk more and deepen our love. Deep love is freeing in ways you can only imagine if you have never been so blessed.
Dawn started out significantly less free than I. Her childhood experiences, her first marriage led to the erosion of her self, her confidence and her love of self. Her second marriage was hell on earth. You can not be free with those burdens. In her struggle out of the pit cancer created, she confronted each of those demons and battled them. At first, she lost every battle, but gained knowledge and returned to the fight stronger. Later she would best the foe, but still be forced to retreat. By the time she was finished with her radiation treatments, she had won the war. By then, she was a much freer person than I. She was helping me to learn from her struggles and victories. She was teaching me and anyone else who would listen, how to free the mind and soul from the bondage of life’s wrongly learned lessons.
She rebuilt a relationship with her eldest daughter that had been damaged by the actions and deceit of others. The ties to her other children also grew stronger. She knew they were adults and had to be allowed to succeed or fail on their own terms, but she nurtured them in ways she had never known before and they grew.
Her ties to the cancer community grew broad and strong. She dedicated her time to helping others see cancer as a gift of awakening even if it might mean the curse of a shorter life. Her goal was to help people to see that QUALITY trumps quantity and you get to choose the QUALITY of your actions and your life. She lived that until the day she died.
She gave me so many gifts. The gift I share with you today is the gift of seeing her fight and earn freedom. She died in my arms a truly free woman. I witnessed the Valkaries come and escort her soul to God. It was a soul that departed at peace with herself and her life’s journey. That is the definition of “Dying Free”.
She bore witness for me as to what true freedom means. I pale in comparison to her example, but she has given me a metric to strive for.
When I die, I will die free. In doing so, I will be free to join her and learn what TRUE freedom is.