Sunrise doesn't last all morning,
a cloudburst doesn't last all day
Seems my love is up and has left you with no warning
But it's not always going to be this grey --George Harrison, All Things Must Pass
When I first decided to run this marathon, I knew I wanted to “test my mettle,” as they say. I could never have anticipated just how much of a test that goal was to become.
Tomorrow marks six months since my mother died. Some moments, it feels like eons ago, or someone else’s life entirely. But most times, it feels like I just spoke to her yesterday. Sometimes, I am just overwhelmed by the crush of sadness. Sometimes, I want to scream at her in anger. Some mornings, I wake up so sad, having had yet another dream where I see her but can’t talk to her, and I don’t even want to get out of bed. I just want to stay there, sink further and further into the comfort of my bed with Jeremy and cry until I can’t anymore.
A few days after the funeral, I was struggling to bring myself to do anything. I hadn’t been eating, or sleeping and I felt like I just couldn’t face the day. I was exhausted. All I wanted to do was call my mom and tell her some mundane detail about some mundane workday, or talk about the baseball season that had just started, anything. All I wanted was to tell her I loved her.
Instead, I got out of bed and went for a run.
And just like I couldn’t have anticipated the test I was about to endure, I couldn’t possibly have anticipated the extent to which running became my means of coping.
It was right around that time that I first emailed Josh to ask if he would be my coach for the marathon. I had made promises to myself and I didn’t want to give those up, but I was afraid that I couldn’t do it on my own. I knew I needed to be accountable to someone if I was going to get through training and be able to hold my head up and see this through to the end. I told Josh how I was feeling like some days it was just too much for me to handle. He was receptive and sensitive to what I was going through. He encouraged me when I needed it, which was pretty frequently. As soon as I was able to, I joined the Tuesday/Thursday Night Torture Group (Josh’s speedwork group). The first time I ran with the group was the hardest I had run in weeks. And when I got home that night, I had a smile on my face for what felt like the first time in ages. I almost felt like myself again.
Over the next weeks, I got to know more members of the group. I felt, in those first few miserable days after she died, that I was at my best when I was around other people. And here, I’d found myself with a group of people dedicated to bringing out the best in themselves and cheering each other on every step of the way. I needed that support. I needed that encouragement. Whether they knew it or not, they were helping me through the hardest time of my life.
There were, and still are, many many moments and days where I’m overwhelmed. But the more I ran, the more I felt that I was putting distance between me and my sadness. The more I ran, the more amazing friendships I formed with the other runners I had met. The more miles I ran, the more I remembered who I was and what I wanted for myself. The more I ran, the more I discovered strength I never knew I had. The more I ran, the more I realized that though my mom was gone, I was still here, and that my life was full of amazingly supportive, loving and giving people and how lucky I was to have each and every one of them. There are many who were a part of my life before I lost my mom, and many who’ve come to my life since then. I will never be able to properly express my gratitude to them all.
For all the phone calls, hugs, smiles, laughs, and shoulders to cry on. For the miles run, and the adventures planned. For the memories shared, and the ones we’ve yet to make. For cheering me on. For being my friends, when I needed you the most.
I had said awhile back that I didn’t want to ascribe any meaning to my marathon that it didn’t need to have. But I was wrong. With just over a week to go, I realize now that when I cross that finish line, the first words I say will be, “Mommy, I did it.” But when I cross the starting line, I will say, “Thank you.” For my friends. I would never have gotten to the start without you.