As I walked through my local gym, I was obliviously to my surroundings. I was in a zone; my mind set on squeezing in a workout while my daughter was in school. As I stepped onto the treadmill a voice called my name. "You're a hero," said a fellow gym member. I looked up and saw an unfamiliar woman. An obvious look of confusion swept my face as she repeated her comment. "You're a hero to so many people," she said. I smile as I thanked her and I began my workout.
As the minutes passed by, my mind started racing. Why was I considered a hero? I'm a local television news anchor, who has no problem standing up to those who criticize my appearance. But, does that make me a hero?
Or maybe it was my children, who I love to talk about; a lone surviving triplet and her brother and sister who are in heaven. I'm passionate about raising awareness for child loss and premature birth. But, does that make me a hero?
My mind began to wander off as my feet ran on autopilot. I usually associate the title of "hero" with veterans who fought in a war or a brave individual who saved the life of a stranger. I thought about the people who have come into my life and one name came to mind. My hero comes in the tiny form, a young child who is oblivious to the super powers she possesses. My daughter, Peyton, is my hero. She isn't supposed to be here today, yet she somehow survived her turbulent beginning. In the early days, I watched her through an isolette door; her transparent body rising and falling with each breath made by a machine. She overcame a brain bleed, infection and surgery, among other issues that make up a complex medical record.
My daughter not only survived, she thrived, and she continues to do so more than three years later. The memories of her frail body will always be etched into my mind, but all that remains from those difficult days is her diva-like personality and her refusal to take "no" for an answer. My miracle child exudes confidence, affection and has a zest for life that is contagious.
I increased the speed and picked up my pace as I daydreamed about the important people in my life. My parents are my role models. They gave me a beautiful childhood, providing the perfect combination of love and determination. My husband is my rock. He gives me strength when I need it most and his love for our daughter melts my heart.
Exhausted, I hit stop on the treadmill and spent several seconds catching my breath. As I looked around the room, a sense of pride swept over me. I reached a running goal that had been months in the making. I glanced at the people across from me, their feet in a fast pace as they rode the stationary bike. I watched two women spot each other on the weights, giving a pat on the back as they wrapped up their session.
According to Merriam Webster Dictionary, a hero is a person who is admired for their brave acts and other fine qualities. As I stepped off the treadmill, I spotted the woman who earlier gave me that title. At that moment, a wave of emotion swept over me. I will never fully know why, but I am a hero to someone. I scanned the room while a grin slowly spread across my face. Every single person in that gym is a hero and the same goes for every person around the world. There is a hero inside each of us. We may not realize it, but someone, somewhere, does.
A version of this originally appeared at: http://www.perfectlypeyton.com/2016/11/there-is-a-hero-inside-each-of-us/