An F3 Story.
Exactly two months ago today, my life changed in a dramatic way. My Father passed away after a very short illness. We received his diagnosis of Stage 4 Lung Cancer on August 20th, he died 13 days later on Sunday, September 2nd. Those 13 days were a whirlwind of sadness, pain, agony, fear, anger, frustration, exhaustion, etc. I could go on and on.
What does this have to do with F3 you might ask?
I have a terrific family, many friends (some far away) and acquaintances through Church, community organizations, from high school and college, work, etc. Some of these people I have known for 35 – 40 years were not the first persons I thought of or the first persons to reach out to me. As those 13 days were passing and I realized he was not going to recover, I found myself wanting to reach out to my F3 Brothers for support first. Now, I did have support from my brother and mother but that is different. Even with that, I was not really sharing with them what I was feeling or looking to them for support, I found myself wanting to support them more than looking for help from them. I had support from some longtime friends but some were hours away. As we’ve heard before in F3, proximity matters. I had support from our Church and family as well but I found it to not be the same.
During those darkest moments of despair, the first persons that came to mind that I wanted to see and share my grief with were the guys I had been spending hours with in the gloom over the past 3 ½ years or so. It was the guys I had spent nights out in the middle of nowhere and suffered through 30 hour relays with. It was the guys that I had attended other visitations with to support another F3 brother in need. It was the guys who helped push me up Crowder’s Mtn for a 2nd time during the Climb CSAUP. It was the guys who might check on me if I haven’t been to one of my normal AO’s in a while. It was the guys that helped me train for weeks and weeks to accomplish a half marathon for the first time this past Summer. It was the guy who beat me in a 5 mile race by .7 seconds and won’t let me forget it. It was the guys who I believe know me now better than some of the people I have known for 35 – 40 years.
The day after my Dad passed was the Labor Day Murph at Martha Rivers. I wasn’t sure what to expect or if I could even get through it. I decided to go….I decided I needed to go. I needed to burn off some anger; I needed to start getting all this emotion out of my system. I needed to see the men who inspire me to be better each day, who push me to be better. I went through the entire workout without sharing it with anyone there even though a few guys knew from the previous day. I struggled through it but got through it. After the workout, Roscoe asked my permission to share with the group. He did and at that moment, you guys lifted me up. For the first time, I personally experienced the power of the shield lock. I had been on the outside of this before in the last 3 ½ years, but never the reason for it. I immediately felt different. I felt supported. I did not feel alone. I felt like I would endure whatever was to come in the coming weeks and months.
The visitation was one of the hardest days of my life. However, the burden was lightened for myself and my family (especially my Mother) as so many of you came through to pay your respects. My Mother knows how much F3 means to me and she was thrilled to meet so many of you and hear about how some of you got your F3 Names. She actually smiled during some of those explanations and introductions. We were overwhelmed with the support. If you ever wondered about moments like this and if your words of support, notes, texts, phone calls, etc. make a difference. I can assure you they do make a difference.
Every day since September 2nd has been a struggle. Each day brings a new thought, memory, count (as in today marks two months), level of sadness, joy, anger, despair, hope and fear. It sucks. But I know I am not alone.
When I first showed up at the Schiele in April 2015, I had no idea where this would take me. Something told me I should go and it’s been one of the best decisions of my life. Maybe someone knew why I would need this group in the coming years, maybe it was just luck, I don’t know.
Men have lots of struggles these days and one of the biggest is loneliness and lack of connection with other like-minded men. F3 can be the cure for this. It has been for me.
With my faith, I believe I would have eventually struggled through the last 2 months. Without F3, I’m sure it would have been more difficult and less hopeful as I would not have had the workouts and fellowship to help me get to this point.
I will never get over this but time and the support from so many will help me begin to heal a little more each day so I can get past the pain to move on toward the great memories and lessons I have from my Dad.
Last thing I want to share is something I’ve learned about the F3 Rock. We get better by pushing the rock each day and helping each other push the rock. We also have the opportunity to pause when needed to be the rock of support for those in need. You guys have proven this to me over the past 2 months and I thank you.
I challenge all of us to continue to spread the word about F3. I’m sure there are more men out there like us who would benefit from this. They know something is missing, they just don’t know exactly what it is. We can help others in the same manner you all have helped me.
See you soon again in the gloom.