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Josh Taylor Hero WOD


When There Is Nothing Else You Can Do 

-Natalie Taylor

Today, June 17, 2011, marks the four-year anniversary of my husband’s passing. Josh Taylor died suddenly when he was 27 years old and expecting his first child. To any of us who were close to him, he is never far from our every thought. But today is a distinctly different day. Anniversaries of any kind, good or bad, whether we like them or not, force us to think about how far we’ve come or how little ground we've made, how much time has passed or how slowly it has gone by, and at least for me, I always think about where we were before this day ever became an anniversary of a life lost, when June 17 was just another day. Now, however, June 17 carries a weight.

Every year I fear this time of year more than any other, and for some reason, I have a huge relief when it has passed. And every year I ask myself, what should I do on this day and on the days that surround it? What is an appropriate way to honor his memory and help myself through these long hours? In years past, I spend time with my family and friends. We prepare and eat a meal together. I spend time alone going through pictures. I spend time with Kai. All of these things seem to be the only thing I can do. But this year, for the first time, I’ve added one more thing to my list.

If you saw my last post, or a few previous to that, you know I do this thing called CrossFit. The CrossFit main site publishes workouts daily (they’re called WODs—Workout Of the Day) and a lot of the workouts have names—Fran, Cindy, etc. There are also other workouts that they run called Hero WODs. Hero WODs are named after men and women who died serving their country in some capacity--overseas in the military, in the line of duty in law enforcement, and so on. In addition to the workout, CrossFit posts a description of the Hero, what he or she did in sacrifice for his or her own life, and names his or her surviving family. Although my husband did not lose his life in the armed services, I have a deep appreciation for the concept of the Hero WOD. I love this concept for a lot of reasons, but mainly because as a widow, I have found that most people feel uncomfortable talking about death and dying, which is of course a natural human instinct to avoid such a dark topic. For me, however, death is a part of my life and although it is sad, it is still my reality and I appreciate it when others bring the topic to the forefront of our daily thoughts. The Hero WOD demands that we do talk about these men and women, because we should. We should look at their picture and feel that tug of sadness in our guts, we should do something to remember them in a way that lets us be together but allows us, even if it is a false emotion, to feel like we are doing something.

The other part of the Hero WOD, for me at least, is that there is some acknowledgement that as a living breathing person, I have the capabilities to put my body through this workout. Sometimes I have moments where all I can do is think about the athletic feats my husband would have conquered had he been given more time here. But he doesn’t get that opportunity. So many people, all too young, are robbed of that opportunity. Because of this, I see it as my responsibility to do something on this day to not only honor his memory, not only to redirect my frustration over his absence, but also to feel my heart pound, to feel my skin sweat, and to feel pain. It is an expression of my appreciation that I get to be here. It is a collision of tremendous sadness and absolute gratitude that I have the chance to live.

Thank you for reading. Here it is:

 

 

Josh Taylor

100 double unders

10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 of chest to bar pull-ups, burpees, ground to overhead (155#/105#)

100 double unders 


 

Natalie and her son Kai at Stay Strong CrossFit after completing "Josh Taylor" in 2012.

 
Natalie is a teacher at Berkley High School in Berkley, Michigan. She is the author of Signs of Life, a memoir that chronicles her life from the day she lost her husband to her son's first birthday. Their is grief and there is sadness, but above all, there is hope and there is love.