Not many people may remember the week of August 11, 2008. And when I say remember, I mean REALLY remember. What you did everyday remember that week; who you were with; how you felt; how you moved around. Unfortunately, I will remember it for the rest of my life.
The night of August 11th, I went to a Mets game at Shea Stadium with my mom after work. On my way home, I thought that maybe I should call my dad to tell him how the game was. But I decided against it; figuring that I would visit him in his office in the morning before I went to work downstairs, have a cup of coffee with him and talk about not only the game, but other things.
The next morning while at work, my mom and her friends came in from work to tell me that my dad had died of a heart attack in the middle of the night. I wanted to go back to work despite the constant stream of tears coming down my face, but ultimately I was sent home.
In the hours and days after, I was completely numb from crying and the shock of it all. I was so numb and unable to move that I needed to help myself walk around my house. I felt like I had aged about 30 years. My mom didn’t know what to do for me, but she told me to come into her room and watch baseball and the Olympics with her. At first I didn’t really want to, but I ultimately did because I didn’t want to be left alone in my room with my own thoughts, which had turned pretty dark.
The night after my dad had died, August 13th, the Mets put a CLINIC on the Washington Nationals. The final score was 12-0. How do I remember that score? My dad was born in December, the 12th month of the year. I smiled, thinking that that was daddy, letting me know that he was okay wherever he was. It also made me realize that I would soon be okay, too, since that was the first time I had stopped crying and had a smile on my face in what seemed like an eternity.
As the week went on, we laid my dad to rest and I tried to get back into somewhat of a normal routine, which was pretty much impossible: not able to move or walk well, not eating much, constant crying, etc. I didn’t think that I would ever be the same.
And then history happened.
Michael Phelps won eight gold medals that week, in a sport that I had never really watched before: swimming. As I was watching the events that lead to his medals, I started to realize hey, I’m sitting with my mom watching the Olympics, and I’m smiling. I’m actually smiling and cheering on my teams and my favorite athletes. I never thought that I would smile ever again, or feel like myself again. In that moment, I knew that yes, it would take some time and some emotional healing, but I can bounce back from this.
Say what you will about the Mets and/or Michael Phelps (there are a lot of haters out there), but without that week in sports - and my mom making sure I have something to take my mind off of things - for me, I would probably not be writing this. They will always have a place in my heart for the joy that they gave me during such an incredibly dark period in my life.
And THAT’S the power of sports.