By: Steve Hardy
Steve Hardy serves on One Summit's Board of Directors. He and his wife Donna live in Durham, NH.
January 6, 2018 marked twenty-five years since our oldest son Josh died of brain cancer. Donna and I drove to Ogunquit, Maine and walked the Marginal Way, one of his favorite places. Less than a month later we were at Arlington National Cemetery where we visited his brother Nate’s grave and observed the 10th anniversary of his death in action during a Navy SEAL raid on a suicide bomb cell in Iraq. The pain of these losses never leaves and at any moment it can crash over us like the big waves hitting the cliffs at Marginal Way or the sometimes-overwhelming stillness among the 400,000 graves at Arlington. But as we have walked the paths of grief, we have also learned to embrace our memories and emotions, both sad and happy. As grief writer Martha W. Hickman puts it, we are “able to feel the spray on our face without a fear of drowning, even to savor the taste of the salt on our lips.”
We can remember how Josh loved to make music mixes (a bit harder in the age of tapes). After he died, we found one called Total Cruisin, which his friends told us he played when they drove up to Ogunquit to surf. When we listen to it now it feels like Josh is talking to us through the songs. Some are dark with lyrics that mirror Josh’s emotions at the time. But others restore positive memories and hope, such as Jimmy Cliff’s Sunrise: “Rise up and shine, life is yours, life is mine, it is sunrise…Sunrise: Ready to welcome you, Sunrise: shining to see you through. Sunrise, ready and waiting for you.”
Even in the face of death Josh showed great resilience—that capacity to stay on his feet and even grow despite and because of adversity. With the love and help of others, we have been able to build a little resilience. This One Summit series of Profiles in Resilience will offer stories of pediatric cancer patients, caregivers, Navy SEALs—and their families—as they grapple with loss and harness their relationships to problem-solve, set goals, reflect and develop their sense of confidence, grit and courage. Every One Summit Climb for Courage is a classroom and laboratory for resilience, with SEALs, patients, siblings, families, and caregivers teaching and inspiring each other. Profiles in Resilience will take readers beyond these events, to the amazing teams of caregivers and families helping kids fight cancer, to the extraordinary SEAL community and its courageous families.
In the end, resilience is a team effort, personified by the bonds between Nate and his buddy Mike Koch, who trained together, fought together, died together, and are buried side by side at Arlington National Cemetery. Like Josh and other pediatric cancer patients, they represent the Navy SEAL creed of resilience: “I will never quit. I persevere and thrive on adversity…If knocked down, I will get back up, every time... I am never out of the fight.”
This blog was published as part of Nate’s WOD Challenge. Between April 2 - April 16, 2018, CrossFit gyms across the country competed in honor of Nate and Josh and raised money on behalf of One Summit’s team of Navy SEALs who ran the 2018 Boston Marathon through the John Hancock Nonprofit Marathon Program.
Share the Hardy’s story on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to inspire resilience across your own network. Have your own story of resilience? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to be considered for Steve Hardy’s next Profiles in Resilience.