Prompt: Moment. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors). (By Ali Edwards)
Wow. This is definitely the most challenging prompt for me so far with Reverb10. My first thought was, have I even had a moment where I felt truly alive? And does a moment when you feel “alive” automatically have to be a happy moment? I don’t necessarily think it does — I think you can feel alive because a moment is excruciatingly painful. But how do I pick a moment in a year that has felt busy but not necessarily full of life?
The moments that have come to mind include the birth of my second nephew, the MS 150 bike ride, and finishing the OKC Half-Marathon. Those are the things that stand out most in my mind, but I don’t know if they really encapsulate feeling alive to me.
There is a day that really stands out to me — not a moment really, but a series of moments over the course of a few hours — that made me feel alive in a very raw way. On November 17th, my family learned that my dad has prostate cancer. Fortunately, it was discovered in its earliest stage and is very treatable. And as horrible as I felt that day, it isn’t the one that stands out to me.
5 days later, my dad completed his 6th Marathon in our home town along historic Route 66. And my mom, sister, brother, nephews and I were all there to cheer him along the way. As a family, we have all completed various physical feats over the years and we have always supported each other through them. But this time was so different. My sister and I made signs with his picture on them to put up all over the race route and we walked several miles to make sure we could see him at different mile markers on the route. And we were all there together, fragile.
Running is an incredibly emotional sport for me — every time I finish a half-marathon I cry — and watching my dad, who I have always naively thought of as invincible, run his last big race before starting cancer treatment, I felt more proud and more heart-broken than I ever have before. The intellectual part of me understands that although any type of cancer is to be taken seriously, the odds are on my dad’s side and that he will very likely be okay. The emotional part of me just keeps thinking, “But that’s my dad.”
The day was warm (for November) and muggy and windy and gray and oh-so-Oklahoma and the nervous energy among the spectators waiting for their loved ones to come around the last corner crackled in the thick air. The smell of dead leaves and sweat lingered around the finish line, which buzzed with the activity of passing out medals and taking pictures. And I got to see my dad finish the race. Watching him run up the last little hill and say “I DID IT!” (just like my previous nephew always does) made my heart burst in an inexplicably bittersweet way. I know that my mom and sister and brother all felt that exact feeling and in those moments at the end of the race we were all closer and more connected than we’ve been in a very long time. As a family, we were alive.