Where do your parents live?, my new friend asked. In San Diego, I reply. And then I remember that my dad died four months ago. So really it’s just my mom who lives in San Diego now. So I clarify and new friend says she’s sorry. And it’s quiet for a second. And she feels bad and I want to protect her from that discomfort so I say, yeah, it totally sucks. Because when I put it that way, she relaxes a little, and I make it safe to carry on with our conversation. But it’s harder to carry on with life.
The theme of the night was Fathers. So I told a story about mine.
About six months ago, after a year of running with pain and without answers from MRIs and MDs, I accepted that my #triathlon career was over. And while I don’t believe in miracles, I’ll still call it miraculous that in those final days of my dad’s life, when I needed running the most, that gift of running he’d given me so long ago came back. Without pain. Without explanation. So yesterday, after a 10-month racing hiatus, and on just three months of slow-build training, I raced with gratitude.
It was my first time on stage at a Moth StorySlam. The theme of the night was Fathers. So to a packed house, I shared a story about mine. And they cried and they clapped. And for a night this room full of strangers filled a void in my heart. And soon after, they announced the winner. And my dad and I won.
I don’t cook, I overheard my mother say to my friend’s mom. Unapologetically. Unabashedly. My friend’s mom was shocked. How could a wife, a mother, a woman, not cook? I was only five but I remember what owning it looked like. My mother, the 2nd grade teacher, the thoughtful neighbor, the community organizer, the believer. She taught me that what I do is far more important than what I do not. Than what I am not. On this anniversary of her birth, I thank my sweet mom for owning it over and over again.