First and foremost, I want to extend my appreciation to everyone who has sent me and my family their thoughts and kind words of support. The response has been unexpected, yet incredibly appreciated. I am sure I will draw on this support as the reality of her absence weighs heavy on my heart. With my utmost sincerity I thank you all.
What hit me most deeply about my sisters pain was her inability to be active when the cancer took root deep within her, taking over her body to the point that it was barely hers at all. I went to visit her for the last time this past month and her days consisted of waking up, being brought downstairs to the living room couch where she spent most of the day asleep or in a completely subdued state. We could interact with her for an hour or so at a time before the fatigue set back in and she needed to lay down to sleep. She barely had the strength to cough away the irritation of her dry throat. Admittedly, I was angered, at both the effects of the cancer and the seeming lack of attention given to her fragile state. I hated that she was simply put onto the couch and effectively left there. It wasn’t that she wasn’t tended to, quite the opposite as we periodically checked on her and kept her company when she was awake, but rather that I wanted to make the time she had in that room as pleasant as possible instead of just sitting and waiting. The blinds were always drawn shut and there was nothing around to stimulate her. No TV. No music. No nothing. I think part of it was my inability to do much for her or alleviate what must have amounted to incredible boredom. I hated that these were how her last days were spent. Immobile and darkened.
I run for many reasons, but primarily because I love to run. I love to be active, to be somewhere, to spend my energies to their fullest knowing I haven’t sacrificed or compromised any of myself that need not be saved. All or nothing. To the well. I run because I love to run, because I have the physical capability to run, because I am appreciative.
I am not of the theist sort, but this does not mean I am not grateful, that I don’t give thanks, that I don’t offer praise. The differences lie in how and to what I offer my praise. Sunday runs are lonely as the rest of culture puts on their best and takes the family to church, offering thanks and praise to the being of a story they internalize to calm their fears. I accept and respect this, and my acts aren’t so entirely different. On Sundays I run alone save the rhythmic rising and fallings of my breath, the increasing burn in my legs, the feel of small rocks on the soles of my feet and though I stand up straight, I feel as if I am appropriately giving thanks to all that makes us what we are. I give praise not to an external creator, not to a nature giver, but to existence itself. I give praise by utilizing what comprises the connectedness between us all, the abilities that we each embody.
To run is to give thanks, to oneself, to the ground for giving stability, to the wind for its calm, to others for doing the same, to everything for merely existing. It is not necessarily falling to ones knees and begging for mercy, but instead rising to ones feet and moving across the land with a strength and speed unthought of till that moment. Prefontaine put it, albeit in a chicken-soup-for-the-soul kinda way, “To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.” I take exception with ones best being a “gift”, something given, but internalize the need to give your best lest we sacrifice what we have individually discovered.
My praise does not take the form of prayers and psalms extended to a father figure, but exists instead as my ability to simply exist, to find my boundaries and extend them further and further, to become aware of my physical self and enact it with the motivations of my deepest passions and most far reaching goals. My praise is to be, not passively, but as kinetic as possible. My praise is to run…further and faster. I am most humble, most god-like, and always most appreciative and full of gratitude to everything and everyone when I am dropping 5:15 miles on a puddle soaked path of packed dirt in 70 degree weather with a cooling rain splashing off my grimace grinned face. I run because I love to run.
It hurt me deeply to see my sister effectively paralyzed, unable to experience the value of her physical self, to not only be aware of the life around her but to also partake in it. As much as I would prefer to see her running again, taking care of her three small children, play wrestling with me when we were kids, I now take solace that the pain that kept her body confined has now been released. I will forever remember not her final resting state, but the motion she embodied within herself when she was fully capable. And I’ll take this on my runs with me.
4 mile warmup / 5 miles with hills (sub 5:30 pace) / 4 mile cool down – all in a beautiful rain
Breakfast – Oatmeal (raisins, flax seeds, almonds, walnuts, agave nectar), coffee
Lunch – Bazbeaux pizza leftovers, kale and tomatoes, water
Dinner – Chili, Bread, sweet potatoes, water
Snacks – chocolate soy milk, smoothie, coffee, soy mocha
Franz Ferdinand – Tonight: Franz Ferdinand