It was Hero Week at my Crossfit gym this week. I love Hero Week because I love honoring and remembering those who have paid the ultimate price selflessly. And I push myself harder because I want to honor them.

But then, there was the Fifth of July. This year, that day marked ten years since my little two and a half year old daughter died unexpectedly. So, this fifth of July, I was working out and remembering her.

It was deadlifts. Should have been easy. Deadlifts are my jam. It was supposed to be 21-15-9-9-15-21 with burpees in between. The prescribed weight was even totally within my range to succeed and rock this workout.

But I went to pick up that barbell and it felt like it was one hundred pounds heavier. I did a few deadlifts and realized that every single time I went to pick it up I was overcome with so much of the weight and burden and grief I had been carrying for the past ten years….

“You are a bad mom.”

“You should have done so much more with her.”

“You could have been so much better.”

“Why do I still get to breathe and she doesn’t?”

There are endless variations on the theme that somehow, some way, I could have been better or stopped it or….anything but this.

It was so heavy.

Unbelievably heavy.

I wasn’t even halfway through and I just lost it. Ugly crying. Sobbing. I just couldn’t. I couldn’t even see because of the sweat and tears and sobbing. I grabbed on to my coach, and just cried. And she cried with me. And she said,

“Just let it all out, Misty. Let it out.”

I told her to drop the weight a little. And she said,

“That’s fine. It’s like we’re dropping the weight you’ve been carrying. You’ve got this. You can finish this to honor her. To remember her.”

And I really needed to finish it.

I needed it so badly.

In the ten years since I lost her, I have never allowed myself to feel so much or so deeply or so…hopelessly. Throughout these ten years, I think I just kept hoping it was all a bad dream. That I would wake up and it wouldn’t be real.

But standing there in that gym, lifting the weight of all that I have carried, and then throwing it down, time after time after time, I knew like I have never known before that this was real.

My reality is she is gone.

She isn’t coming back.

This isn’t a bad dream.

This is real, and it hurts and it’s heavy.

Sobbing through my last 21 deadlifts, I just let it go. And I really didn’t think I could finish the burpees. The letting go of all of it was so hard, and I just didn’t know how I could even keep breathing, let alone finish. And everyone else was finished and had put away their equipment and the clock said 23:05 and I needed to finish. No matter how long it took.

And then, there was my coach, and some warrior women from my gym.

My fellow athletes.

Moms. Friends. Heroes of mine.

And they were telling me I could do it. They were cheering for me. And in the midst of their cheering, I could hear my daughter’s sweet, sassy, tiny voice.

We used to hike when she was a little thing, and whenever I had a climb that was hard and I lagged behind, she would stand at the top and cheer me on,

“Go, mommy go!” Over and over.

And for a second, I could really hear her in the midst of the love and hope and kindness that filled that sweaty, grimy space.

And for a moment, it was sacred ground.

Because I finished. I let it go.

I think I had been waiting ten years to pray that way–with my whole body and soul. And I let it go. And I accepted it.

Thank you, ladies for being angels on the fifth of July.

And thank you, Emily, my coach, my friend.

The level of trust I have in her is something I have never really experienced but is vital to a true coaching relationship. I trust her to know me better than I know myself how far I can go or when I need to quit. She has never, ever let me down.

There really is something sacred in sport. I have always sensed it in the periphery–watching on the sidelines–but on July 5th, 2018, I wasn’t an onlooker–I participated in the holiness that can come through sport, and it allowed me to find closure I had not been able to find through any other means.

And I am ready to move forward and climb the next hill, because she will always be cheering me on, and sending angels to help me on the way.