A Warrior Returns Home

9 Jan

A Warrior returned Home the other day with a very honorable send-off.  Ohio’s Clark County Deputy Sheriff Suzanne Waughtel Hopper was fatally shot on New Year’s Day while answering a response to gunfire in a trailer park in Enon, Ohio. A stickler for procedure and safety, on this particular day she was ambushed and never had a chance.

Recently married, a 40-year old mother of two, Deputy Sheriff Hopper left quite a legacy. She was a 12-year veteran. She was known for her exemplary performance of duty, her compassion, and her generosity of her time dedicated to fund-raising for the Special Olympics and other charities.

As often happens, articles in the Columbus paper have been bringing aspects of her life to light as a law enforcement officer and as a mom, daughter and member of her community. Her now familiar picture is of a vibrant, “full of life” young woman in uniform.

On Friday, over 2,000 vehicles took part in a three-hour procession from a modest church in Springfield, Ohio to the cemetery. According to the account by Columbus Dispatch writer, Holly Zachariah, over 1,000 of those were law enforcement vehicles driven by male and female “police, deputies, firefighters, paramedics, federal marshals and park rangers” – some of whom drove from as far away as Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, and even Windsor, Ontario…to show their respect for a fallen comrade, “mourn their loss and to support one another and the family.”

It was her 13-year old son who shared from a place of strength and joy about the things his mother enjoyed and celebrated. “My mom was happy,” he shared. He went on to describe her love of country music, O.S.U, football games, and attending his school sporting events and activities. A co-worker shared in an interview about her optimism, saying  “She tried to make positives out of negatives as much as she could”

“With realization of one`s own potential and self-confidence in one`s ability, one can build a better world.” – Dalia Lama

Ms. Hopper lived a life of building a better world.

I have come to have a very different understanding of “death” over my years of working with my spiritual mentor and Elder, Grandmother Pa’Ris’Ha.  Traditional cultures teach death as a natural part of the life cycle. It seems that one result of the Industrial Age, having lost our connection as an agricultural society to the Earth, the cycles of the seasons, and living Beings in general, we moved into a type of denial. The illusion of Separation grew stronger. “Death” became this Dark Force – the Grim Reaper, as it were – that came to steal us away from existence as we know it.

When we understand ourselves as Energy, it lessens the fear of Death. Like the Yin and Yang, Day and Night, Life and Death are seen as simply each other’s opposites. They are complementary to one another.

Life is what we experience in manifest form here on Earth. “Death” provides a doorway into another experience, unknown to us until we are actually there. So it’s a Mystery.

“There is joy always if we accept that life is none other than time exchanged for experience. Exchange it in service to all creation!´- Grandmother Pa’Ris’Ha

From the testimonies of those closest to her, Suzanne Waughtel Hopper lived each day to the fullest, in service to others. I celebrate her time here amongst us and trust that those closest to her will take comfort and strength from the example she has left of embracing this experience we call “Life” with appreciation for every moment and the determination to make each moment count.

-Deborah Adler

©2011 Deborah Adler. All rights reserved.

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