Today I turn 28, unlikely you could forget. To be honest however, I dreaded this birthday, until I saw the 28 written in an email. 28. Your special number. Davy Allison, Nascar, and 28. Three things that meant the world to you. Three things that made you, you. Every password you ever possessed had a 28 somewhere in it. The car you raced around the track had it on the side. The jacket that still hangs in my closet still has that number on it. It is even on your stone for eternity. How can I dread 28, when it means a daily reminder for an entire year of the person who shaped me the most? the person I miss the most?
You know, I said when I turned 27 I was going to be brave, but to be honest mama, I ran a scared race last year. I was hard on myself in everyway. I was stalled out by my choices. Always looking left and right as I went around the track, never looking straight out at what was in front me. I was so worried about all the cars passing me on the track that I forgot what I had under my own hood. I forgot the unique components that I brought to the race. I forgot how powerful I am, I forgot how steadfast I am, I forgot a lot of things. I don’t want that on the track this year. I want to go around that track this year with freedom in my tank.
I want to be brave enough to stay in the uncomfortable point of wanting to give up. I want to wear my unique paint job and know that each of those chips in the paint are a gift that allows me to relate to other people with similar chips. I want to accept that this track isn’t ending at a specific destination. There is no predestined lap pattern, with standardized pit stops, that I have to follow. This is race that never ends and as long as you keep going forward, you always win. If other people pit first, I want to be confident that staying out on the track isn’t the wrong thing to do, it’s just different; I will pit when it is good for me.
I want to know that just because I can’t see my pit crew, doesn’t mean they are going anywhere. I want to hold steadfast to their whispers in my ear, that no matter what I do out there, they will be there. If I crash, they will be there to pick me up and put me back together. They aren’t going anywhere. Even in the process of rebuilding, they won’t ever leave.
I want to be thankful for my teammates out there on the track. I want to hold fast to the knowledge that I am not alone in this race. They may pass me, they may push me, they may let me go; but that’s the trueness of team: You don’t let each other play small. You don’t let them quit. You push them to be better, they push you to be better. They will block for you and cheer for you, and love you. Gosh mama, I love my team.
Mama, most of all, I don’t want to waste this 28th year. There are honestly some days when I feel so overwhelmed I want to pull off to the side and just watch. But there are so many more days, when I wake up and just feel so blessed to even be a part of this race. I have a great set-up, and I can’t understand why sometimes I can’t see that. I was built from good parts, with a lot of love and endless hope. I come from a place few will ever be lucky enough to call home. I want to live a life of gratitude this year.
So mama here’s to you and me and 28. Thank you for bringing me to this racetrack called Life, I got this. As Darrell Waltrip always says: boogity boogity boogity…lets go racing. This ones for you mama.
Forever & Always