My Dad’s service was really small. He was a really humble and private man. He was a successful businessman who worked up until about a year ago when he was suddenly admitted to the hospital.
Most people like to flaunt their success through cars, expensive clothing, and just plain bragging. Dad wore the same pair of Khaki pants, and often torn t shirts. He had a sly smile. He had the things money couldn’t buy, and while everyone was out trying to buy just that, he knew what he had right in front of him.
Most of us have goals, aspirations and dreams we chase after. Those might be an athletic endeavor, a mountain to climb, an academic degree. His mountain? It was supporting role in what YOU wanted to achieve.
It’s how he built his business. Supporting role to his business partner. It’s how he built his marriage (51 years), and it’s how he parented.
When I told him I wanted to do the Ironman, I was real sick with my eating disorder. I wasn’t in any condition to go out and tackle something like that (I was 20). But he did the research to get me started in multisport. He read the literature and helped me achieve recovery from that EDO and transition into a healthy athletic lifestyle. When I did do that first one, he was there. Then along came Ironman Live (at the time) and he loved to be able to sit in his mission command at home and watch me race.
In the months after his death, that’s the piece I wonder about and reflect upon. His dream was truly to help others reach their dreams. When we hit those finish lines and collapse with elation, his elation was being able to support that moment.
I don’t know what led him to be this way. It’s something I deeply admire.
I am know that his passing has changed me, changed who I am. Changed how I view this world and my role in it. There was a day when I truly relished in the limelight, when I overposted such silly things to social media because it was fun.
These days I like that space out of the spotlight. I have deeper connections to those around me. I have boundaries. Strong ones.
I have been fortunate enough to use multisport and the family we have found within it, to help me move through so much this past year. Since April I have traveled all over the place, racing my brains out with friends. Carrying around a big cutout of Dad’s face whom has become #FlatDad. It’s even to the point that people are asking if he’s at an event.
My grief therapist thinks #FlatDad’s adventures are healthy and a good way to help me work through all of this.
It’s been a lot this past year. A whole lot. From him becoming suddenly ill to rebounding to dying from an egregious medical error. I took a deep dive into understanding what happened and while I can’t talk about details just yet…. trust me there will be a day when I can….. if you know anything about wrongful death and how this all works, as I do now, you will understand that the case I have been working so hard on was difficult for me to convince someone to believe it. But I did. With proof, with the people I needed to believe me see that I was right and tell me they can’t believe I did it.
It means you relive it daily. I wake up at 2am every single night, every single night with the same dream. It began as a nightmare but I am so used to it, that it’s just a dream now. Its the chain of events that happened as I suspected and now know they were. But in the dream I am there and can’t do anything to reverse the course of action. I am doing the work I need to, and am told they will eventually cease.
Grief is tricky. It affects you in ways you don’t realize. This spring I developed a calf injury that went through several diagnoses, proven incorrect as all imaging studies came back negative. Four providers then diagnosed me with the same thing. Inflammation secondary to grief.
I have been running very consistently for 3-4 months now, and it’s subsided (I committed to a season of Aquabike and it’s serving me well). It was strange to have four providers teach me about the connection between deep loss and inflammation, and how common it is to develop an injury or illness in that first year.
We know that time does not heal grief, it just teaches us how to wear it. I am learning how to wear it, and it has solidified who I am right now, and how I live. It’s influenced the connections I hold dear, and even influences how I compete.
More than ever I compete with a completely clear head and a heart full of curiosity, that is willing to be turned inside out in order to find out what I am capable of. It’s the deepest confidence I have ever felt, it’s the deepest pain I have ever felt, and while on the race course, it’s the deepest … wonder…. I have ever felt.
People who understand this deep feeling of loss have reached out. While there is no fixing it, there is a compassion and a knowing I am not alone. Walking side by side with someone who has been here, gosh what a gift. It’s knowing what you both know, not needing to say anything, but just being there,
Thanks for walking with me through this. Thanks for learning with me through this. Thanks for giving me space, I have needed a lot. Thanks for kind words, reassuring touches, and not trying to fix anything for me. Thanks for letting me work through this at the pace I have needed to.
I know Dad is proud.