Throughout the years, I’ve listened to TobyMac – acclaimed musical artist and rapper. Toby was the inspiration behind the name of my business, after I first heard “Tripleskinny” on his Momentum album. Three shots of energy – none of the fat…three shots of agency – none of the fat…
Beginning from Momentum, Toby made it a point to include his son in many of his recordings, debuting with his first runaway hit – Tru Dog. As an avid fan of TobyMac, I felt as if I got a front row seat to listening to his son grow older. As he got older, the quality of his songs progressed, and it became clear that music was a way in which he communicated with his Dad.
In 2019, Tru overdosed from fentanyl.
I was shocked to hear the news, which came abruptly and seemed to come from left field.
As a Dad, I imagine that Toby has had to work through a sea of questions, guilt, blame and memories that grow further every day in the rearview mirror. I imagine that absolutely nothing will ever soothe or heal the pain he experiences on a daily basis; he will simply have to learn how to live with the pain every day.
In a lot of ways, being a single parent feels like the pain of losing one of your children. Rather than abruptly losing a child due to an accident, you experience the slow pain of a life that will forever be spent with half (if you’re lucky) of the time your child will be there with you.
Every day you wake up and realize this hard truth. You try to take a shower, get ready and paint on another smile, but that reality never goes away. It’s like carrying around a pile of laundry from one room to the next – after so many moves, it needs to be refolded and organized again. That’s how your emotions feel.
As an adult, I have to take account of my life choices and be responsible for the consequences they all carry. Sometimes this revelation is clear to me, while other days it feels like a leash being jerked around my neck that I forgot was there. Reality.
As a Dad, I think ahead to the years when Atlas will have a relationship – or several. I hope when he ventures into those waters, that he finds somebody who treats him well, is loving and kind, and uses her words to encourage and build him up. I hope he never experiences the pain of being called a faggot, or other malicious names. I hope he never has to run away from flying household objects, broken glass or hands that choke him.
As a Dad, it would break my heart if I picked up the phone and heard that he was being treated this way. The idea that somebody could do these things to my son – the boy whose diapers I changed, hand I held and body I hugged when he got hurt – would break my heart.
Every part of me wishes that the life experience he has is free of pain and suffering. However, there’s a part of me that knows that it’s possible to go through pain – because I went through it.
It’s hard for me to go through life sometimes and keep my smile intact. Every day, I am reminded of wounds and pain that still feel fresh. From the loss of my Dad 15 years ago, to the day where I watched the hope I had for a family fall apart.
My life hasn’t turned out the way I hoped it would. As an optimist, I want to see every day as somehow having hope and potential. As a realist, I now see that not every day has a turnaround in store for you.
Meet the bell, kid. It’s the fight of your life.