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The moth is brought to you by Progressive, one of the country's leading providers of auto insurance, with Progressive's name, your price tool, you say what kind of coverage you're looking for and how much you want to pay, and progressive will help you find options that fit within your budget. Use the name your price tool and start an online quote today at progressive dotcom pricing coverage match limited by state law. And keep listening at the end of the show today for a special bonus story made possible by progressive.


Hey, East Coast math listeners join us on Monday, March 22nd for the ultimate storytelling showdown. Our East Coast Grand Slam 811 will face off with stories about tipping points. You won't want to miss it by tickets at the Moth again events. From Reps, this is the Moth Radio Hour, IMAG Bulls, and in this hour, we'll hear four stories told live on stage at moth events around the U.S. True stories told without notes about real, sometimes surprising events.


If 20-20 taught us anything, it's that life as we know it can change on a dime. The stories in this hour all deal with moments that caught people off guard.


Some moments are a test of will, while others can throw a person's life completely off course.


Our first storyteller is Aaron Pangu, who shared his story at a mainstage presented by WGBH in Boston from the Wilbur Theater. Here's Aaron Pangu live at The Moth.


So I'm commuting home from work, and when I walk into BART, San Francisco's subway system, I'm instantly annoyed because I walk with a cane and I wear leg braces and I notice that the elevators and escalators are out of service, which means that after sitting on my butt in my office for eight hours, I have to start off my commute by walking down three flights of stairs down to the platform.


And there's nothing I can do, that's the only option, so I walk up to the mouth of the stairwell and I take a deep breath and I put my hands on the inevitably sticky handrail and I begin my descent.


Whenever I'm walking downstairs, I have to stay relatively focused, I have to stay focused, and so I don't notice immediately, but about seven or eight steps down, I realize that nobody is passing me, even though it's peak commute hours and there's so many people in the station and the stairwell is actually wide enough for two people to walk side by side.


And so I pause and I turn around and I see all of these people behind me walking at my pace and this woman at the front, she looks to me and she gives me this little fist pump and she winks and she says, Honey, you got this.


And I realize they're not passing me because they're trying to be considerate. They're trying to give me space.


But what they don't realize is that their consideration is causing this huge back up up the stairwell, a back up that people could blame on me.


And and I can just feel the pressure building on the back of my neck as more and more people enter the station.


I can feel like now I'm the only one standing between their day of corporate office work and their night of precious, precious Netflix.


But I don't say anything. I don't say anything because I want to be considerate of their consideration. And so we keep walking.


But about halfway down, I hear this disembodied voice at the top of the stairs, a man who's obviously had a very long day and he just yells, Oh, my God, walk faster.


I would love to, but everyone around me in my close vicinity freezes in this thick awkwardness, as if they're offended for me and that woman, she puts a hand on my shoulder, gives it a little tight squeeze, and she says, ignore him, take all the time that you need.


And I turned to her with a smile on my face and I say, well, you guys know you can pass, right? There's plenty of space. I'll be fine.


And she goes, Oh, dear, that's so considerate of you. But you don't need to worry about us and you definitely should not worry about him. He is being such an ass.


You you just do whatever's most comfortable for you. And that's when I snap at her and I say, yeah, you guys passing, that is what's most comfortable. And she's stunned into silence, but without another word, she concedes and she moves past and people are trickling past and I can feel that pressure on the back of my neck is a little bit.


And I keep walking and I finally get down to the flat of the platform on flat ground. I'm able to ease into a mode of walking that requires a lot less thought. But I'm still at the mouth of the stairwell, so I try to cross all the way to let people pass, and as I take a step, my left leg, Midwin catches my right leg and suddenly my body's moving forward with nothing underneath it. I try to execute an emergency maneuver.


I try to hop on my right leg, replace my cane to catch my fall. But as we all learn in physics class.


Isaac Newton's bitch, and therefore my body is a body in motion crashing to the ground.


See, I became differently abled about seven, eight years ago when I underwent a series of surgeries to remove this benign tumor from my spinal column.


Every surgery has its risks and my risks manifested after 20 hours in the operating room. I woke up in a hospital bed unable to walk, and for two months I stayed in that hospital bed learning to walk for the second time in my life. But after those two months, I walked out of that hospital, but now I do so with a cane and braces and a limp. And every year we would go in for checkups. My mom would always ask the same question, she would ask, isn't there anything you can do for him to fix him?


Any special treatment? We can try.


And the doctors always provide some version of the same answer. They say Aaron's recovery has been miraculous. He has a full time job. He lives by himself. He even travels. He's independent. And that's much more than we can ask for. And the doctors are right. I am independent, but things like having a full time job or even graduating college on time, they don't really test your independence, at least not on the day to day basis, like just the casual grind of a morning commute on the subway can.


But despite all my criticisms of Bart, Bart's actually pretty great because every train car has reserved seating for people like me and these accessible seats allow me to play this game.


This game I like to call accessibility seating chicken.


Like this one time I walk into a car with a very pregnant woman and an old man and.


And there are only two seats for the three of us, and so in the 10 seconds between us getting on the train and the train starting to move, we have to decide who sits.


This becomes a game of will to see who is the most stubbornly polite.


And there is.


Oh, no, you said no. You said no. You said what? You're pregnant, but you're old, but you're handicapped. And there's a lot of weird, like polite shoving.


And as all of this is happening, all of the able bodied people in non designated seats ignore us. But when the dust settles, the woman and the old man are seated and I'm the last man standing, I am the last man standing because I am the youngest and I look the strongest. And to be perfectly honest, I really like to win.


And so I take my spot next to one of the railings that you can hold on to. And I'm basking in my victory, satisfied in my ability to help somebody else out in need. And that's when the train starts with a jolt. I lose my balance and I fall into a businessman in a suit.


And then finally somebody stands to let me sit. See, in public, it's a weird balancing act, balancing what people how people perceive me, how I perceive myself and what I'm actually capable of.


Because on the other side of that coin, sometimes people don't even notice that I need help, like on a different commute, I'm seated there in one of the accessible seats. Next to me is an able bodied woman in the other accessible seat. And we stop and the train doors open. And this woman in her late 50s comes in and she just beelines towards me and she gets right in my face and she says, Excuse me, can you please stand?


I have a bad back and I need to sit. And I point to my cane, but before I can say anything, the woman next to me stands and this lady takes her seat. And for the next 15 minutes, I can feel her channeling this self-righteous anger. She's furiously scrawling on her phone, giving me the stink eye.


But about one stop before I get off, she turns to me.


She goes, you know, you were supposed to stand for me, right? These seats are reserved for people who need it. And then she points to her phone, which has the BART website on it with the rules of priority seating.


And without a word, I just point to my cane and then I lift up my pant leg to show her my braces, because every once in a while and public, it's nice to have two forms of credentials.


And instantly, the hot air just deflates out of her and she begins apologizing profusely and she's just like, Oh, I'm so sorry, she begins telling me her whole life story about her injury. And I can relate. And she says something that I always remember. She says, I know I might not look like I need it, but these seeds are really helpful and I couldn't agree more. Sitting on the subway is great.


And sometimes people don't know that I need those seats, and that's completely OK. Because other times people can't help but to notice my disability. Like when I end up walking down three flights of stairs and ended up tripping and just star fishing on a really crowded platform.


I'm lying there and I can hear the train that I was supposed to be on pull out of the station, my legs feel like electrified jello and I am only able to get on all fours.


Somebody who reminds me of my mom comes up next to me and offers to help. And without a word, I put out my arm and she takes it.


And when I try to stand, she doesn't realize that I'm about to put all of my weight on her and so she's not ready, and when I do, she loses her grip and I'm about to fall again.


Except this time there's a man behind me. He puts two arms under mine and he puts me on my feet. I don't give this man permission to pick me up, let alone even touch me, but in moments like this, you kind of have to swallow your pride. And so they walk me over to one of the benches and they offer to sit with me until my train comes, but I say no, it's totally fine. This happens all the time.


I'm just a little shaken up. And they feed back into their lives, and as I'm sitting there, I'm just furious.


I can feel the other people just taking sideways glances at me, I'm furious because for the last seven years I have done so much physical therapy to get to where I am now.


But in those same seven years, I have also watched a stupidly large amount of TV, I am currently on my fifth rewash of the West Wing, that's 577 hours of television that I could have better spent on my legs. And so I always think about this concept that journalist Malcolm Gladwell popularized this idea that it takes 10000 hours to become an expert at anything. And so when it comes to my legs, I wonder if I just don't have the talent or if I'm not dedicated enough.


I wonder if my disability is severe enough for me to sit or if I'm strong enough to stand. I wonder if it is OK to get drinks with friends after work, or should I go to a physical therapy appointment? And as all of these thoughts are tumbling through my mind, a couple of more trains pass and when I finally feel up to it, I get on one and I go home. I get to my apartment, I make dinner, I put on a TV show, and as the night progresses, I feel the pain in my needle and those thoughts begin to fade.


I'm getting ready for bed, I brush my teeth and I stretch a lot. And as I get into bed, I grab my phone to set an eight a.m. alarm so that I can catch the 45 train. Aaron Paying is a software engineer and lives in Oakland, California. Aaron told me that since telling this story, he started driving to work.


Part of him loved commuting, surviving the grind made him feel independent. The only thing he really misses is the people watching.


Aaron had a chance to share his story live on stage several times with the moms, including in front of a hometown audience in San Francisco. He actually invited his entire medical team to the show, the surgeons, nurses, physical therapists who worked with him over the course of his treatment and recovery. And he said it felt really good to be able to give them a glimpse into an experience they were part of. Aaron still constantly worries about what more he could be doing in an email.


He told me, my condition will degrade. And odds are at some point in my life, I won't be able to walk anymore. Now the worry becomes finding long term, sustainable solutions for me to live the life I want to live.


It's less looking to return to the past and more how will I live in the future? By the way, I asked Aaron which West Wing episode was his favorite, and he said there are too many, but two cathedrals is a universally beloved one.


And I do love the episode The Supremes.


I first met Aaron when he called our math pitch line and left a two minute pitch that caught my ear.


The pitch led to me calling him and then his taking the stage to tell the story and now are sharing the story with you.


If you have a story you'd like us to consider. You can go to our Web site and look for tell a story where you'll also find advice for how to craft your pitch. Or you can call us at 877 799 Moth. That's 877 799 six six eight four pitches or develop four shows all around the world.


Coming up, a romantic night out at the Nevill Island Roller Drome when the Moth Radio Hour continues. Moth Radio Hour is produced by Atlantic Public Media in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, and presented by PUREX, The Moth is supported by Monday Dotcom here at The Moth, our podcast team is working on a lot of new and exciting things.


And Monday, Dotcom is helping us stay organized. Monday Dotcom Work Ossy is a customizable platform that makes it easy to plan projects, give feedback and decide next steps all in one place. Whether you're a small operation or a global organization, create the perfect workflow for your team. With Monday dotcom work ossy to start your free 14 day trial, go to Monday Dotcom. This is the Moth Radio Hour from Pyrex IMAG Bowls. It's often said that how you act in the face of something you can't control can determine the outcome of the situation.


Our next story from Joel Brady is a fun example of just that. He shared it at our Story Slam series that happens once a month in partnership with FSA in Pittsburgh. Here's Joel Brady live at the Rex Theater. Last year, my my wife, Peggy and I, we went on a roller skating date at the adult skate at the Nevill Island Roller Drome, and if you've never been to the adult skate, it's like this kind of alternate universe.


It's all these people who are really good at skating in the 70s and 80s, and they're still really good roller skating. And they still have all their Adidas tracksuits and they're light up skates.


And it's it's really and there's also this, like, wonderful sense of community there. And Peggy and I, we don't know anybody there, but we were just taken in the night and we were like, this is great. And we're not as good as those people at roller skating. But I, I have a signature roller skating move.


And this move, it involves me sitting down like on my haunches, on on one skate, and then I kick the other skate leg out directly in front of me, like. And if I get going fast enough, I can do like a full rotation around the rink like that, and I was doing that like all night, you know. And Peggies, like she's starting to get tired of it, I'm nowhere near close to even getting tired of doing that.


And so, you know, the night goes on.


And I remember at this point the night that song Hot Stepper was on, you know, like I'm the hot stepper word or like that one, which is like a terrible song. But the Nevelson Roller Drome is like this vortex where every song you hate it in high school sounds amazing.


So that song is on. I'm getting into my signature move. I skate up real fast in front of Peguy. I forgot to mention, like usually I come around and I, I cut her off like.


Anyway, I'm getting into my second Shamos, I skate real fast, I get down into my move and then all of a sudden I feel her hands on my back.


She had caught me and I was surprised because I knew she could say that fast. She caught me. And now she's, like, pushing me really fast around the around the rink.


And I'm thrown off because it's pretty hard to actually to balance like that. And now I've got other variable in my physics and it's just there's a problem. But then I settle down and I was like, no, we got this, you know, so we're going around and I'm like, OK, this is actually this works.


And then I just then I kind of let go and I just, like, gave myself over to her and I almost just involuntarily put both my arms out.


And it was so liberating.


And the best way I can describe is like I felt like a rose on the Titanic, like on the prowl the Titanic, you know, like wind in my hair.


And it was also this incredibly intimate moment, too, like so we started dating. We were 16. And I can remember the first time that I kissed the spot next to her. I she is this little indentation in her bone structure. I kissed her there and was like an intimate moment that we remember it.


And I knew that this moment at the Nevill Island roller drone was going to be that kind of moment.


And, you know, we're in the people are looking, I don't care.


I'm with my wife, like, you know, and and then we're in the middle this moment. And I see fifteen feet ahead of me. Skating by is Peggy.


And she's got this very confused expression on her face, and I'm also feeling very confused because I can still feel her hands on my back and it's kind of hard to do in this position.


But I do look like a quick, you know, over the shoulder. And it's just some random guy.


This is not at all this woman that I've known intimately for over two decades, it's just this dude that I've never seen before in my life, and he's got this big goofy grin on his face and he's not in a hot stepper like he's having the time of his life, because that moment that I've been having, what I've been telling you about, he's also having that moment.


Except that his experience that moment, I think is a little bit different than mine. For starters, he's the one pushing that's just for starters.


Secondly, he's known all along that it's just some random guy is having his moment.


That's not information I've had access to. So then I'm like, OK, recalibrating, recalibrating. And people's expressions make more sense now. The size of the hands. And then I'm thinking like, all right, well, what are next steps here, because we're still flying around the roller drome and Leo DiCaprio back there doesn't look like he wants his moment to end anytime soon. And to be fair, why would he?


I've been giving him every indication that I'm really enjoying his company, like really enjoying his company.


And then I stop and I'm like, you know what? There are no next steps here because with hot stepper blast and like that, I can't communicate with them over my shoulder.


And I don't know if you've ever tried to extricate yourself from the specific physical situation, sitting on one roller skate with the other skate like out in front of you and some dude pushing you around at breakneck speed.


Just take my word for it can't be done. It's not physically possible without total carnage. And then I thought, you know what?


I might as well enjoy it. And I looked over my wife and I thought, life partner. And then I look back over my shoulder, that guy. And I thought, skating partner.


And I put both arms out again and it felt incredible and we did like 10 more laps like that. That was Joel Brady. He and his wife, Peggy, have four children. Joel is a professor of religious studies at the University of Pittsburgh and an avid climber.


He says he and Peggy don't skate much at all anymore.


And as for that mystery skater he wrote the light touch with, which he initially caught me, was matched only by the gentleness with which he released me only to skate off and vanish into the crowd. I've sometimes wondered if he was an angel.


You can see a picture of Joel and his wife Peggy on that fateful night at the Neville Island Roller Drome on our Web site, The Moth Dog.


Sadly, he doesn't have a picture of his signature move.


But if you Google roller skating and shoot the duck, you'll get the idea of changing that by American Gangster.


Our next story teller, Michelle Robertson, also took the stage at one of our monthly open mike story slams, but this time in Detroit, Michigan, where we partner with local radio station W.D.. Here's Michelle Robertson live at The Moth.


All right. Well, I'm the oldest of four girls in my family. My first sister was born just before my second birthday. And then my other two sisters are 10 and 14 years younger. So the majority of my childhood I have most of my memories are just me and my dad and Rebecca and my mom.


My mom and dad were two totally different people. My mom's super shy and very straight laced, like never did anything wrong. She didn't smoke or drink or swear or gamble or anything like that. And my dad grew up on the rodeo and like, love drinking beer and smoking some weed and whatever else you could get his hands on and say nothing in common except for his parents. They had this one thing and that was it. Neither one of them really had any issues with playing favorites.


So Rebecca was my mom's favorite and I was my dad's favorite. And if my mom went anywhere, Rebecca was going to be with her and my dad took me with him. So Rebecca got to go to the grocery store in the bank and I got to go to the party store to buy beer. And so my aunt and uncle's houses every single weekend where my dad would hang out with his brothers and sisters and they would drink beer and smoke whatever and play cards.


And me and all my cousins, this huge extended family, we'd ride horses or do whatever we wanted because nobody was watching us. And we both individually had these really great childhoods, Rebecca and I, but my parents and creating this kind of division of a family created this huge animosity. So it wasn't like normal sibling rivalry. There were no like moments of tenderness.


We didn't do each other's hair, makeup or talk about boy like we didn't we hated each other, hated logit, hated each other.


And she was really like, when I think about competition, she was my fiercest opponent for all of my life because we were constantly trying to outdo one another and prove that we were loved.


And it continued that way. Once we moved out, we both moved out, got married, had our own families. You know, to me, I had grown up with this big extended family. And so it was important to me that my kids knew their cousins. It just was like an unfortunate circumstance that they were back as kids.


But it was it really was. You don't know her. So I live with my dad or call me, like every weekend and ask me to come over for dinner and I'd say, yeah, can you have Mom call back and ask her back and bring the kids over? And she would. So we all spent time. Well, Becca would hang out with my mom in the house and me and my dad would like do the fun, you know, light off fireworks for no reason or ride four wheelers.


It's all the kids would hang out with us. And then my two younger sisters grew up and moved out and my parents were just kind of left with each other. And they realized I think everybody else knew they didn't have anything in common. And I think, well, my my mom probably got tired of my dad drinking all the time. And my dad probably just got tired of this and my mom bitch about him drinking all the time. So my mom moved out, but she still came over at weekends and then she moved back in.


So I was fine. And then she moved back out and she didn't come over on weekends anymore. And then Rebecca didn't come over on weekends anymore. And within this really quick couple of months, my entire dysfunctional family kind of started to fall apart. And it was really a short time, like a couple months later, I will never forget. I was at home. I was working from home that day and I'm sitting on my bed and my laptop's out and these papers and my phone rings and I pick it up and it says, Karen slash mom.


That's my mom. She never, ever called me. And so I panicked because I thought something was to happen to my dad, for my mom to call me. So I answer the phone. I'm a little panicked, but she was totally fine.


And she's like, well, that's over. That's final. And I was like, what's final? And she said, the divorce. And I said, What divorce?


And she said, between me and your dad. And I was like, no, there's no divorce between you and Dad. And she's like, Well, no. I mean, there is there was it's final. I'm leaving the court right now. So I want to ask questions. But I couldn't because. I felt like my eyes get high and a lump in my throat, and so I was just like, OK, thanks for letting me know I'm working, I'm really busy.


I got to go. And so hung up the phone and I cried so hard and so ugly for such a long time. And I wanted to call a friend like I wanted to talk to someone, but I couldn't because they would ask what was wrong. And I would say my parents divorce is final. And they would say, I didn't know your parents were getting divorced. And I'd say, yeah, me neither. And I was going to be super weird.


And I was really mad at myself because really the only person in the world that I wanted to talk to you was Rebecca.


But I couldn't I actually didn't even know if I had her phone number, but I did. After a long time. I looked and I did. And I eventually worked up the courage to call her. I thought it was going to be weird. See, I made it a little bit weird because she said, hey, and I said, this is Michelle, I'm your sister.


And she was like, I know who you are. And so I made it a little weird. But then I just said, Oh, OK, hey, have you talked to Mom?


And she said in her really like Rebecca like way.


Have I talked to Mom? I talked to Mom all the time. Mom calls me every day. And I was like, oh, OK, OK. I didn't know. So so you know that I didn't know. And she said, you don't know what I was like that it's final. And she said that was final. And I said the divorce and she said, what divorce.


And I said between mom and dad and she didn't say anything. And then I heard her crying and then I started crying all over again.


And then we just cried together for this really, really long time.


We stayed on the phone for hours, just talking and crying and talking about about our parents and figuring out how we were going to tell our sisters and how we were going to tell our kids and how important it was to both of us that our kids stayed in contact. And we talked and we cried until it was just nothing left. And then we just sat there forever on the phone in silence until she said in her really, Rebecca like way like, why would Mom call you instead of me?


Mom always calls me. And for the first time in in 35 years, I was able to just laugh because I just didn't care anymore because I realized that there didn't have to be a competition and that she wasn't my opponent. And for the first time, I was just talking to my sister. That was Michelle Roberts live through another curve ball when Michelle's father was diagnosed with cancer shortly after the divorce and she moved him in with her and her family. She told me in an email, my sister Rebecca is a nurse and was so, so helpful during that time.


We became super close while caring for him until he passed away. She's now one of my best friends. I seriously don't know what I would do without her. Our kids still see each other. We all spend a lot of time together and sometimes my mom enjoys.


She first told the story back in 2017 and she said that listening back to it again after so long made her think how grateful she is that things have changed. She said, I genuinely love my sister and still can't believe we spent so many years trying to outdo each other.


You can see a picture of Michelle, her mother and her sister, Rebecca on our website, The McHarg. Coming up, surviving the unthinkable when the Moth Radio Hour continues. The Moth Radio Hour is produced by Atlantic Public Media in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, and presented by the Public Radio Exchange PUREX Doug.


This is the moth radio hour from Prick's IMAG Bolls, and our last story comes from patients Murray, who survived one of the deadliest mass shootings in the United States. A word of caution. This story graphically describes the events of the attack and may be difficult for some listeners to hear. Patients shared her story at an evening we produced in partnership with three CDC at the Anderson Theater Memorial Hall in Cincinnati, Ohio. Here's patients, Merck. I heard gunshots.


They were firing off over the music and it sounded like they were coming from another room in the club. People were screaming, ducking and scrambling for cover. I was 20 years old. It was my first time going to Florida, my first trip alone with friends, Tiara and her cousin Kyra, the trip was the only thing we talked about for weeks.


It was my first time getting on the plane and it was my first time being at Pulse nightclub in Orlando.


It was an 18 and a club.


And we had so much fun that night, dancing and being silly. But the clip was about to close in. My feet were aching, my armpits were drenched, and the sleek ponytail I had in the car turned into a pushy mess, we embodied the phrase leave everything on the dance floor.


And we did. Until we heard the first shots in the machine gun, I dropped to the floor. Things started moving quickly. It was like the room was spinning.


I could hear other people, but I couldn't hear myself. I couldn't hear my thoughts. I couldn't think. I was on the floor scooting backwards away from all the chaos, and I kept moving and moving until I felt the cool ground underneath my palms. I realized that somehow I miraculously scooted my way through an exit and made it outside. When I looked up, I saw Kira coming towards me, she said tIere was still inside.


I lifted myself up from the ground and without any hesitation, we rushed back and for her it was the first time I felt that kind of determination.


But leaving here behind wasn't an option. The gunfire was still blasting and it sounded like it was getting closer to Yaro was squatting by the bar, paralyzed with fear her eyes.


We're lost. We didn't have any time to think. The exit seemed way too far and the gunfire seemed way too close. We saw people rushing into the bathrooms and we really needed to hide. So we decided to follow them. We saw cover in the bathroom. It only had forestalls. So we jammed ourselves into the handicapped, one with 20 other people, we could still hear the gunshots, the screams, but by this point, the music had stopped.


There was a brief moment of silence. Then everyone started talking again. Some people were on their phones, I saw a girl bleeding on the floor holding her arm and others were begging people to remain quiet.


Then the gunfire started again, but this time it was inside a bathroom. We were screaming and scrambling around on the floor as the shooter fired endless rounds of bullets at us. Ben. The shooter's gun jammed. The gunfire had stopped. When I look down at my leg. I saw a hole the size of a penny pouring red streams of blood.


I tried to wiggle my way into a space on the floor, but the pressure surrounding the balloon was so heavy it felt like a boulder had just dropped on my leg, crushing it.


It stunned my entire body. I can barely move an inch, I could barely breathe straight. Underneath the stall, I can see the shooter's feet. And his machine gun. It was nothing like I had ever seen. It was the first time I ever saw a machine gun in real life. I looked at my head from the floor and Akira. She had her phone raised to her ear while she was placing her, bracing her bleeding arm, and I heard her say, please, come get us, please.


I've been shot. I desperately hope that her calls will save us all.


Then out of nowhere, the man said, get off your phones, not in a yelling voice, not an angry voice. It was a calm voice, which was terrifying. I didn't dare pick up my phone. And besides, the only people I could call lived a thousand miles away. I was on vacation. And it was the first time I left the state without telling my father. I started crying. I felt a hand rubbing my arm, trying to console me, and I don't know whose hand it was, but.


I appreciate their hands so much. I tried to slide forward, but my right leg was bent and pinned under the man lying next to me.


I asked him, please get off my leg, it's been shot. But he was shot to and couldn't move either. We needed someone to come save us because there was absolutely nothing that we could do to save ourselves. It was going on three again, we've been lying in each other's blood for hours. Phones are ringing.


They were making the shooter agitated and I found it harder to keep my eyes open. I wasn't sure if I was falling asleep or if I was dying.


Then the phone rang and rang and kept ringing, and then the shooter started making his own calls to 911 when?


He warned the police to stay away, claiming that if they didn't, he detonated the explosives he had in his car.


At first, all I had to worry about was him shooting me again, but now. I fear it being blown to pieces. I heard the shooter pacing. I could see his feet right outside of our stall door. I didn't want to die, but each time I heard him click is going to last hope. I felt myself giving up.


Laying in excruciating pain makes you beg God to take the soul out of your body, it makes you pray and ask forgiveness, it makes you regret not saying all the things that you wanted to tell people, yet extremely grateful for the things that you did say.


Certainly, there was a loud boom. The entire building shook. Then there was another loud boom, even louder than the first.


I just knew that this was it. I knew that I was about to die.


I placed my hand in my mouth and clenched my fist in preparation for death. Then out of nowhere, a voice over a speaker shouted, Get away from the walls. The shooter ran into our stall and began firing at people. I didn't move. I didn't breathe. I just held my breath and clenched my fists, I felt the man next to me moved closer. I felt their body pressed on my arm and then he shot again.


And I heard the man on top of me scream. Then there was another loud boom.


The wall came crashing down. Debris covered my face, but I could still see a light shining through the hole in the wall. The police shot it for the man who put down his weapon.


And then the room erupted with gunfire. And lit up like a night sky on July 4th. Then there was nothing. There was silence. When the police came in through the hole in the wall, I remember looking up at the officer with his armor and gun in complete shock. I was alive. I can still see the image of my legs on the stretcher against the backdrop of those clothes, ambulance doors engraved in my mind forever. The hospital was a blur.


But I do remember the nurse handing me the phone and memorized my father's number just in case I ever lost my phone, and today I was glad I did. The doctor explained the situation to my father, I had been shot in both legs and the bullet that entered my right eye shattered my femur bone.


So I was being taken to surgery. They handed the phone to me. I could just hear how confused he was, and I tried my best to remain calm and clear, I didn't want my father to hear the fear in my voice like I heard the confusion in his.


He always said. You're going to be fine. My dad was no doctor, but I believed him. I kept those words with me as I rolled into surgery and they were really the only thing that gave me hope.


Tiaro survived a gunshot to her side. But Akira didn't make it. Earlier that night. We were celebrating all of her successes and now she was gone. It was the first time I ever felt the sensation of someone just suddenly being gone. It's been three years since the shooting. I remember my first time walking again, I remember my first time going to school again. I remember my first time going to a club again. And I remember my first time being happy again.


But no matter how happy I am. How much stronger I feel, I always ask God why. Even though I can't believe that I survived, forty nine people were killed, I think about the odds. Of the shooter not shooting me for a third time or the police not coming in when they did, and I can't stop thinking about why me? And every day I think of about. And every day. I'm live in the figure out the answer to that question.


Thank you. That was patients Mary Patience is an entrepreneur, author and founder of the Survivin Live Foundation. After these events, she graduated from NYU as an Mxy Resilience Award recipient.


Patience has since moved to Florida, and she started a new life and a new business with her husband, Alex Murry, whose sister Achara died that night.


Patient says that she and Alex found each other while they were both healing from the same traumatic event. He was dealing with the loss of his sister, Kiara, and she was dealing with not only the physical pain, but also the loss of her sense of security in the world. They had both lost hope in life. But she says together they've regained that hope in their relationship and love for each other. From the first time I met patients to when she took the stage, a period of maybe 11 months, there were more than 15 mass shootings in the United States.


El Paso, Texas. Gilroy, California. Dayton, Ohio.


At first, I worried that patient's story might be too hard for people. But with every new report in each instance, the numbers of casualties and fatalities reported matter of factly, it felt more and more important for people to hear her story.


Samuel James, a journalist and frequent storyteller with The Moth, shared the stage with patients that night in Ohio and recently spoke to her about what it was like to tell her story.


How did you feel first telling this story? I was extremely nervous. I was extremely nervous because I never told my story in this format in this way before. Everything has always been, you know, question and answer or I found a way to put it into, like, poetry. You know, I've spoken before. I've spoken in front of people before, but I've never told a story in a way that brings them on the journey with me versus me talking at them, because it's not a performance.


You're literally just telling the story. And I think that's the beauty of the moth. I like sharing my you know, my truth, my my journey with people who are are willing to listen and take that journey with me. And because it's a heavy story, it's not a story that, you know, brings roses at the end necessarily. It's a rollercoaster ride.


When you were telling your story, can you tell me just like what you imagined it might be versus what actually happened?


Well, when I imagine telling my story on any stage, especially in the format that I was telling it and I thought I would get super emotional, I thought I wouldn't be able to finish. I thought that I would just be a puddle of tears by the end of it. But I actually felt super empowered by sharing my story in that format on stage because I already went into it with reservations. I didn't think that I could make it through it.


But when I realized that I was making it through it, even with distractions, even with my anxiety, even with my own emotional, you know, transgressions, I realized that I'm a lot stronger than I give myself credit for. And that was inspiring to me on stage while I was, you know, saying the story is like, wow, I'm actually making it through this.


Did you have any any interactions with audience members after you told the story?


Yes, I did. They were a few people, like a good amount of people that came up to me and just wanted to hug me. I remember one lady. She was crying, literally crying for me. And that for me was humbling. I just I got on stage hoping that I wouldn't, you know, that I would be able to finish. And here is this woman. You know, she's so moved by it. And at that point, I realized that I needed to have a little bit more confidence in myself and more confidence in the fact that I do have a powerful story to tell and no amount of anxiety, no amount of fears or just, you know, self-esteem issues should come in the way of connecting with God's purposes over my life.


At the end of your story, you you end the story, your story with saying that you still ask God why? Do you still ask God why? You know, I've stopped asking God why, because I feel like God is revealing why in my life every day and I have to listen, just like how the moth audience members listen to me. I have to listen for God. There's so many different things that I have in store and I feel like.


Asking that question, why each day, all last year gave me some clarity on where I need to be this year and what what position I'm in for my family, for people who are also trauma survivors, sometimes we think that we have control in life.


But as much as the decisions we make are what shaped the clay, but we're not the ones holding it. God is. So I'm just listening for that for that inner, you know, direction from God to just let me know if I'm on the right path and I feel like I am. So I'm just going to keep moving forward and ask me this question in five years.


All right. I'll be back here in five years.


That was Samuel James talking with patients, Murray, you can hear more of that interview on our website, The Mossberg, where you can also find out more about patients and the many things she's up to now. Her new business. She has a book and she was featured in a three part documentary series entitled Sincerely Patients that was nominated for an Emmy.


Patients told me that the shooting forced her to truly accept the fact that we have no control over what happens in life, we can only control how we deal with it.


And I think that's true for all the storytellers we met in this hour, may we all find the strength to embrace and move through everything that life throws at us.


That's it for this episode, we hope you'll join us again next time for the Moth Radio Hour. Your host this hour was Meg Bowles, Meg also directed the stories in the show, the rest of the most directorial staff includes Kathryn Burns, Sarah Habermann, Sarah Austin Ginés and Jennifer Higson production support from Emily Couche. Most stories are true, is remembered and affirmed by the storytellers. Our theme music is by the drift of the music.


In this hour from Michael Hedges, Anika Mosi, Dexter Gordon and Bill Evans. You can find links to all the music we use at our Web site. The Moth Radio Hour is produced by me, Jay Allison with Viki Merrick and Atlantic Public Media in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.


This hour was produced with funds from the National Endowment for the. The Moth Radio Hour is presented by PUREX for more about our podcast, for information on pitching us your own story and everything else, go to our Web site, The Moth Dog.