A lion sleeps in the heart of every brave man. –Turkish Proverb
Thirteen years ago, my mom and I participated in a three-day walk from Fort Collins to Boulder, Colorado, in support of breast cancer awareness. The total route was sixty miles, averaging around twenty miles a day. We walked in the very hot and sunny days of August and we camped in tents each night. It was more grueling and demanding than I ever imagined it would be and many of the participants had trouble even completing each day.
My mom and I trekked along our journey with determination and resilience. Or, I should say, my mom trekked along our journey with determination and resilience. I was 24 and believed I was invincible.
Unfortunately, on Day 3, my mom injured her foot and had difficulty putting weight on it. The twenty miles ahead of us seemed at the least, daunting, and at the most, impossible. But my mom was steadfast in her determination to finish what we started months before in preparation and fundraising efforts. She decided she was going to cross that finish line and nothing stood in the way of her grit and resolve. One foot in front of the other. Step by step. For the last couple of miles I held her arm and bore some of her weight as the pain began to overwhelm her.
But we forged ahead, both of us reduced to tears, and eventually we crossed the finish line together. It was an incredible moment and a day I will never, ever forget. It was a genuine triumph earned in a genuine way—with hard work and fortitude of body, mind and character.
Almost exactly ten years later to the day, my mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She has since undergone multiple surgeries, hospital stays and four rounds of chemotherapy. She has lost her hair twice. She has endured an emotional and physical roller coaster of good news and bad news, of good days and bad days.
Since her diagnosis, I’ve often thought about the day we walked.
I remember it as her lion heart day.
I saw first hand her incredible fighting spirit. I watched her dig deep, hold her head high and keep on keeping on. I remember being so proud of her and so impressed by her and so wishful that I had a little of that lion heart somewhere inside of me.
Today she is on a different kind of a walk. A longer and harder walk. The hills are steeper and the terrain is rougher.
But that same lion heart is there.
I see that fighting spirit and resolve and determination. I see her dig deep, hold her head high and keep on keeping on. She has been put to test upon test upon test and she always comes out standing, ready to forge ahead. One foot in front of the other. One step at a time.
On this Mother’s Day, I celebrate that fighting spirit that I see in my mom. I celebrate the lion heart in her and the lion heart that she’s helped me find in me.
Whenever I’m put to the test, whenever I know I have to dig deep and find reserves I didn’t even know I had, I thank my mom. It’s one of the best gifts she’s ever given me. And it’s one of the reasons why it is such an honor to have shared every day of my life with her.
Today I raise a glass to my mom and to all of the lion hearted moms out there.
I applaud your fighting spirit, your resolve and your grace. For it’s not the snuggles or the soccer games that band us together. It’s the times when Life brings us to our knees but we stand up and start again. It’s the time when our strong, brave hearts help us to forge ahead even though it feels like we need to surrender.
Today I celebrate that resilience and strength and having the know how to know how.
A lion sleeps in the heart of every brave man. And every mother.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. I love you.