Training is officially underway and can I just say that it feels so good to be back at it! Run thru the lights was spirited, festive, and fun.
The course was switched up a bit this year and it was a lot better in my opinion. It showcased downtown a bit more and all of the beautiful Christmas decorations. I got to see tons of friends and enjoy the running community of Kalamazoo. A few years back this run was tiny, with only 50 or so participants. This year it swelled to over 1300!
Saturday kicked off Run Camp, and even though I struggled with a migraine all day Friday, I figured that with plenty of rest I would wake up ready and rearing to go.
I went to bed early on Friday only to be woken up at three or so with a pounding head and a mind that would not turn off. Ugh. “Why tonight?” I kept asking myself. I just want some rest!
That’s when a memory hit me like a ton of bricks.
Sometimes, out of nowhere, memories of my Mother come to me and literally take my breath away. A moment that I tucked away and have not thought about or seemingly forgot comes back with full force and gives me pause. When this happens I play it over and over in my mind, hungry for details so that I will not forget. I want to capture it, and never let it go again.
The mind, it’s a funny thing. It can take your memories and dull them after time. It can make them fade and disappear as the months and years go by. And when you lose someone who is so dear to you, this is painful.
I lost my father when I was 19 and over the years his voice began to fade. I have to struggle to remember what his voice sounded like. It kills me. I just want to hear him speak one more time so that I can bottle it up.
I am so afraid that this will happen with my Mom too. I replay her voice everyday in my head to hold onto it. So when I she came to me in the middle of the night Friday, when I was begging to God for rest and healing for my headache, I grabbed hold of the memory and played it over and over until it rocked me to sleep like a lullaby.
It was something that I had not really thought about since it happened, but it was this:
Last year, the night before Run Camp kicked off, my sister, brother-in-law, nieces, and my Mom decided to come stay with me for the night as they were in route to visit my other sister and niece Charlie who were in the hospital in Ann Arbor for Charlie’s heart surgery. It was a kind of last-minute decision and they did not get in until 9 o’clock or so.
I remember that I wanted to be to in bed early for the first day of Camp, but I also wanted to stay up and spend time with them.
What came to me on Friday was snap shots. Me opening the door and seeing my Mom. I had just seen her a couple of weeks before at Thanksgiving, but in that short time she had gotten thinner. Weaker. But her smile.
God, her beautiful smile. It lit up my house.
She could not stay up long after she arrived. She was tired from the trip. But the short hour or so that she did I could not get enough of her. I knew she was not getting better, I knew our time was limited. I just wanted to talk with her, touch her.
I can still picture her sitting on my couch, laughing at my dog. I can picture me tucking her in. Hugging her good night. The snap shots of that evening came at me at full force.
And I remember how the night before the very first Run Camp a year ago, I laid in my bed wide awake not able to sleep. My Mother laid in the bedroom next to mine and I was up for hours that night wondering. The questions that haunted me over and over and over then. Why? How much time? How can I show her how much I love her? Does she know?
I got up early the next morning, while the house was still asleep and went to my first day of Camp with these questions still in my head. By the time I got back my family had already left to visit my other sister. I was left with bittersweet joy of having that surprise, short visit with my Mom.
And here I was a year later. On the eve of Camp when her smile, voice, and the memories of that night came rushing back to me.
What a difference a year can make. So much can happen.
So why am I writing all of this? Maybe to put it into words so I will not forget about it again. To remind myself to not take this short life for granted. To remember that I am healthy and able and that is why I can and should run with reckless abandon. To remember how much Run Camp got me through such a difficult time last year and how it can help me get through more healing this year.
I know it sounds dramatic, but I honestly do not know how I could go on, at least with such peace, if it was not for running. I did not start running until later in life. I down right HATED it before. One day I just began. Now I think that God put it in my life so I could learn to deal with what was to come.
When my Dad passed away I did not have a healthy outlet. I got swallowed up by depression and turned to anything that would take the pain away and make me forget. Alcohol, men, drugs. When my Mom was diagnosed with cancer I had already fell in love with running, so I turned to it.
I ran to escape, to pray, to talk with God. I ran with friends to talk about what was going on. Or I ran with friends to NOT talk about what was going on, but rather focus on something else. I ran to sort through my emotions, to forget my emotions. To heal.
It is such a different grieving process. That does not mean that it is an easier. In fact, it is harder on so many levels to FACE the pain. But one thing it is: more peaceful.
I am finding more peace. Day by day. Run by run. Sleepless, memory filled night by night. Cry by cry. Prayer by prayer, I am finding peace.
If you are going through anything similar, I encourage you to turn to the road or trail to help you heal too. It is such a powerful place to work through life.
For me, I am so thankful for the outlet that it has given me.