gazing out at the rays bouncing off the Pacific
Ocean waves. “It’s swimming with dolphins
and catching rides with humpback whales.
Pretty cool.” It was one of the first times I
consciously told myself a story that turned a
negative into a positive.
Ever since, this was our spot, me and Mom.
I’d often come to it, right at the base of the
lifeguard stand, to hear myself talk to her.
Sometimes I’d update her on my life: What
girl I was hanging with, how the season was
going. Other times, I’d tell her what my sister
Krissy was up to, or I’d relay some funny story
about Aunt Susan. Now, having been led to
our spot by that vaguely unsettled feeling,
I found that the words just started to come,
as if on their very own, and it was some
“You know what?” I said. “I want more in this
life. I don’t want to be somebody who lives in
circumstance. I want to be a person of vision.”
And what’s been keeping me from becoming
a person of vision? Sitting there, I instantly
knew the answer. Suddenly, mysteriously, I
was able to identify the cloud that had been
hanging over me.
For years, I’d told people that I’d forgiven my
dad. But had I? And, if not, why not?
“Mom,” I said, my throat catching and
burning, “don’t get mad.” I remember looking
up and realizing that part of what I was
feeling was ... guilt. To become that person of
vision meant that I’d have to forgive my dad.
Really forgive him. And what I was wrestling
with — that cloud — was really fear. Fear
that forgiving him meant I was being disloyal
“Mom, don’t get mad,” I repeated, tears
starting to stream. “I’m not picking sides.
I swear I’m not. I’m not forgiving Dad for
taking you away from us. I’m forgiving him for
being lost and for making a mistake. Because
I, too, have been lost and made mistakes. I’m
forgiving him because I don’t want him to
affect my life going forward. He’s not in my
life anymore. You still are. And you’re going
to be in my life forever.”
I looked around. Someone was walking a dog.
A couple of dudes tossed a Frisbee around.
Man, I’d been bearing all this weight, and I
hadn’t even been aware of it. “Let me get rid
of carrying all this around with me,” I said —
pleading. “I just want to keep the goodness of
you. If it were me in heaven, looking down on
my son, I’d be like, ‘Hell, yeah, rock on, bro.
Do what you gotta do.’ If I want to be the man
I think you’d want me to be, I gotta ditch this
cloud that’s always following me around.”
34 2019 PHILADELPHIA EAGLES GAMEDAY MAGAZINE
I sat there a good while, feeling close to
Mom. Finally, I stood, took a deep breath,
turned, and began making my way back to
my truck in a nearby parking lot. As I walked,
I could feel myself actually getting stronger.
I noticed a bounce in my step. I literally felt
lighter. I broke into a smile when it dawned
on me: Mom pulled me here. She wanted
to kick me in the butt a little: Dude, there’s
something weighing on you. Just let it
I didn’t know then just how transformative
real forgiveness is. “The weak can never
forgive,” Gandhi said. “Forgiveness is the
attribute of the strong.” Today, I can’t tell you
how many people tell me they can’t forgive
someone who has wronged them. I tell
them to stop keeping score, man. Forgiving
someone doesn’t mean they win. To the
contrary: letting go of bitterness and guilt
frees you. Do it for yourself.
That’s what I learned that day on the beach.
Gandhi had it so right. By the time I got to
my truck, I felt ... stronger. I swear the cloud
had lifted. I felt like I’d just grown up a little. As
I began driving, I talked to Mom again. “I’m
going to be okay, Mom,” I said. “Whatever
happens, I know now I can figure stuff out.
I’m always going to be able to figure