My Place of Grace

Published 9:39 am Wednesday, November 1, 2023

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When I was in college, I had a teacher that asked us to do an essay on “My Place of Grace.” That essay has always stuck with me, especially now.

The essay was simple and to the point, a place that you can go to that brings you peace. My place was Lake Eufaula. My family has been going up there since before I was born and when I was an infant, my dad bought a double wide trailer that had a ton of burn damage for about $3,000 and put it on a lot at White Oak Shores on Lake Eufaula.

I have more childhood, teenage and adult memories there than just about anywhere else. When I met my wife she also started coming up there, too, and she loved it just as much as I did.

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In 2020, a tornado caused a tree to fall on the house. We started work on trying to do all the repairs to get it back to being inhabitable again but then COVID hit and my mom passed away in 2021. The trailer was an absolute wreck – for numerous reasons –and without my mom, it almost became a chore to even think about going up there again. I kept telling my dad, “Yeah, we’ll go up there at some point” with never really any intentions in doing so.

Finally, my wife and I went back up this summer and when looking at the state of everything it felt like an impossibility to get it where we could stay again, but just a couple of weekends of work and we managed it.

While we were handling the cleanup, I could feel my mom surrounding us in there. Everything from the decorations in the kitchen and living room to the massive dinosaur mural she painted in the spare bedroom when we were kids just made us feel like she was still there. When cleaning up the laundry room, which was badly damaged, we even found some of her old “romance” books she was addicted to and the dinosaur sponges she used when making that mural at least 30 years ago. Lake Eufaula became “My Place of Grace” all over again.

But going through cancer and the treatments that have come along with it, I’ve also realized “My Place of Grace” is a lot more than just one thing or one place. I’ve had to find grace in a lot of different people, places and things, more than I ever realized.

When I was a kid, any time I felt sick or bad my mom would take me to the local Movie Gallery or “Tiger Video” and let me rent a wrestling tape. That always seemed to help, I’ve been addicted to wrestling since childhood. Any time through all of these treatments I’ve been at home and nauseous or just hurting, I’ll throw on some old WCW or ECW wrestling tapes and it distracts me for a little bit. Watching modern wrestling, AEW for example, and even going to the couple of local shows I’ve been to since the summer has also been a “Place of Grace” for me.

I’ve also found grace in reading, both comic books and biographies during some of these long doctor visits. One of the biggest places of grace, though, has been with people. I’ve said it many times but my wife has always been a “Place of Grace” for me. She sends me little “memes” every day with uplifting messages, tries her best to keep me positive even in the lowest moments and just generally has my back.

My in-laws and my dad coming with my wife and I to a wrestling show in Crestview this summer was one of my favorite moments during a time that hasn’t been so fun. Family, friends and people I don’t even know wanting to help us or just telling us that they’re praying for me or rooting for me or just thinking about us has been more uplifting than I ever could have imagined. Nowhere in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine that people in the Troy community, players, coaches, fans, people that have never even met me would want to reach out to try and help us and I could never thank them enough or express just what it’s meant to me.

I’ve also always been a big music lover, especially rap and hip-hop. That may have annoyed my parents growing up and it can cause my wife and I to fight over the radio on road trips at times, but it’s also brought me some grace. I call it “Mood Music” but my wife calls a lot of the stuff I listen to “sad.” I don’t listen to it with the intention of being sad but it’s the type of music that definitely elicits emotion.

One song in particular that has really grabbed me over the last few weeks has been a song called “All By Myself” by a Nashville, Tenn., rapper named Haystak. For the majority of the song he’s talking about getting through struggles all on his own, not needing anyone else.

When you’re going through something like cancer, sometimes you do feel alone. No matter how great people can be to you in attempting to uplift and be positive, you have to deal with the pain, the sickness and the internal feelings yourself.

The final 1/3 of the song is him realizing he, in fact, needs all of these people around him to make it through and that you can’t do it all on your own. I absolutely could not get through this on my own, no matter how alone I may feel sometimes. Those words of encouragement, my wife by my side, family and friends wanting to help absolutely are what keeps me going. The last few lines of the song say it all.

“I couldn’t have done it all by myself, I needed everybody else. Wouldn’t have done it without your help, I couldn’t have done it all by myself.”