“Fights he well, sister?”
“I have seen many, many warriors of our halls who have succumbed to far less,” I said without looking up.
“When shall he be claimed?”
“Know you well that ours is not of the future. We are of the now,” I politely chided.
“True. But how much longer can you watch, knowing that the list of deeds to be called grows longer by the day?”
“I would happily call his deeds until Ragnarok for the spirit he has shown. I now watch for simple pity that his heart is so heavy.” I reply.
I am a Valkyrie, a chooser of those found worthy of our halls. I see the battles done and, I have heard the clash and wails of ten thousand score lives and have known their deeds. I watched as the club gave way to the sword and spear, and I watched as musket gave way to the missile. I fetch the worthy slain. I return them to the hall and herald them to the Einherjar. I scream their deeds. It helps establish a pecking order among them.
Many of those on Midgard have wondered about the nature of such battles, the heroic deeds done. I will tell you now of the current battle I watch and how I tally the deeds.
I have watched this man, this mortal man, since his youth. He has battled for so long that I began watching him in his youth. It hurts even to think that there are many honored dead, ushered to my hall who fought in but one battle. A single day could change the world, just as a single man can shift the face of the world.
I saw his training how he pushed himself to learn to use the tools of steel. He honed the mind and body to be among the elite of his kind. The many years he studied technique after technique to better do battle with his foe. And now, he has turned to teach another generation of warriors. His once brown hair is now mostly gray, but his skill with steel is unaffected.
I watch as he girds himself for another battle. He cleanses and prepares himself. He has learned much in his decades. He gathers his team, a squad of similarly trained warriors, for no warrior can truly work completely alone. They follow him because he is worthy of being followed. When not in battle, he continues training and teaching, wearing white. A color of peace that helps show his rank to those he meets. When in battle, he wears green. When he was young and first learning, he was told that green was the color of their kind because green is the color of life.
And now, he steps upon his battlefield. His enemy is all around him. He makes eye contact with his team, noting their demeanor with a nod. He’s worked with them for many years and would recognize fear in their eyes if he saw it. He glances about the place where the battle will be fought. He looks to the far corners, seemingly looking for the arrival of the ultimate foe. His foe is timeless, ageless, ceaseless, and persistent in its determination. Unbowed, our warrior takes his place, ready now for the battle.
Beyond the place where he fights, huddled behind the walls, families sit waiting to know the outcome of the battles – their stake is quite high. They come to him and ask him to use his skill and training to defend what’s most precious to them. They gather and tremble, each keeping themselves a weighing of the scales for the different outcomes. For some, the fear cannot find purchase; they are resolute and have found strength in whatever place they like. Others walk and worry. Each of them seems paper-thin to my eye, they are helpless, and they pity each other – and I pity them and their plight.
He always speaks plainly and without preamble to those he defends.
“The cost shall be great,” he says, “and victory can never be assured.”
“We will find a way, and we understand the risks,” they say, but in his heart, he knows they have no clue of what risks they speak.
He has had to return to his meditations after a defeat far too many times by his count. But, he can smile knowing that those defeats were rare – for no warrior is perfect.
He approaches the place of battle and looks at the face of the young warrior with whom he must work. He takes a deep breath, calms his nerves, and calls to order his team. This young warrior is fighting harder than anyone in the room, far, far harder than they should ever need to, but here our warrior finds his calling in helping these brave fighters. They assume their familiar positions on the field, and the battle begins.
The surgery itself isn’t all that hard. Hell, the Greeks were doing this over a thousand years ago. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t nerve-wracking for the parents: he and his team work by the bright lights overhead and to the cadence of a beeping monitor. Parents in the waiting area, sit, trying to will time to be easier passed. But time will pass interminably slow for those of us in the waiting room.
The valkyries watch the pediatric surgeon with great interest. They stand and fight in ways that are beyond the understanding of nearly everyone.
I and mine have had the profound sorrow to find ourselves needing such skill and the absolute joy of being able actually to find it. The doctors who helped my son for the first six months of his life are – and always will be – some of the very best people. They do a job that is not merely difficult; they do it on the smallest and most vulnerable of us.
When I die and pass to whatever sits beyond this life, be it heaven, hell, the halls of the Einherjar, or to become the stuff of stars and stories – should I find myself able, I will sing the praises of these talented warriors of green and white.