I want to run more. In fact, the medicinal properties enhance my mental wellness. It is impossible to finish a run in the same mood one starts it in. It either ends in euphoria or exhaustion—both of these cousin-emotions afford a certain amount of relief regardless of which one shows up. When in the fluid form of movement, my trapped and ragged feelings radiate from my heart down into my feet, inevitably bleeding out with each footfall. I am proud to say it has been a week of sticking to a training plan, and it is already helping.
Then came yesterday. I didn’t want to run. Actually, I didn’t think I could will myself to do it: first nasty snowfall, tired, fighting a cold, didn’t sleep the night before. And the emotional dread of the impossible week before me. But run I did—not becauseI thought I could, but rather because someone else did. Let me explain. It all began with an email of immeasurable worth…
It was a letter of encouragement from a friend, but not like the notes I send: Hey, thinking of you, (heart emoji), hope everything is OK. This letter made my feeble messages look like they were penned by Mussolini himself. No, no, this was a full-on tome, a 576-word epistle of sorts (Yep, I did a word count), and beautifully written to boot. The subject read: Heather, a Reminder for You. This person who I haven’t known very long (yet already know is a key piece in the jigsaw of my life) took the time to write not only edifying words, but also made their case with a body of evidence better than a high-profile lawyer—expect in this instance, the glove actually fit.
In many ways, we are different in biblical proportions—lion and the lamb stuff. But sometimes life doesn’t need explanations, it just needs kindness. The email started:
Introspective and observant.
Funny and open minded.
Compassionate and knowledgeable.
I read the words, but they at first didn’t even permeate the surface because yesterday I did not believe any of those things about myself. Sometimes, when we are worn, we can no longer be our own cheerleader. We are depleted. The battery in our heart weakens and can’t restart. It is then, when someone attaches invisible jumper cables, black lead to right ventricle, red lead to left, they beat for us until we are able to draw enough power to once again ignite independently.
One line used to prove I was strong was: When you are tired, you run. As the day wore on, it played on loop and slowly permeated my being. The currents of the jumpstart were kicking in. I pulled out my Lululemon pants and reached for my iPod—then, put it down again. I decided this time I would run with only the ruminations in my head and the grief in my heart.
Apparently breathing is tough to do when you are sobbing and trying to run up a hill simultaneously. Who knew? A guy on his way to his car in his driveway gave me a concerned looked as I passed by. I sucked up my tears long enough to nod and give strong non-verbal cues that he should not venture to ask me how I was.
It is coming up to being one-full year since Jaymison was born. November 16, a family birthdate closest to my own. I was one of very few fortunate to hold his washed and swaddled body—a lifeless vessel that had once housed his living soul. A perfectly formed being that looked as much like his dad as he did his mom. There is an intimacy in shared trauma that can’t be explained to someone who wasn’t there…and I won’t even try. But I will tell you about the sadness.
It is a different sort of grief. It is not the pain of missing someone you knew and loved for years or the ache of someone gone. Instead it is a death of another type, a more universal kind, a more ethereal concept: a firsthand look at the wider vision of the world and its cruelty and unfairness. It is a moral injury, a loss of innocence, the realization that there isn’t always a natural order and things don’t always work out. It is not the sadness of mourning; it is the weight of a permeating heaviness.
The night before the delivery, when we knew Jaymison was gone, I did not know what to say to my son, Jason. I remember telling him that this was going to be the hardest thing he would have to face in his life to date, that I was proud of him.
“You got this,” I managed.
He could do it. I believed in him when I wasn’t sure he had the strength to believe in himself. It was my turn to boost a failing battery.
Now, a year later, I see the echoes of my own speech sent back to me through fiber optics, the circuit of the energy making its rounds throughout our humanity. I read, unabashed trenches of salty water staining my face: It is for all of these things and much more, Heather, that you will survive and conquer this hurdle ahead of you. You will dominate sadness and triumph with perseverance atop of the podium of victory.
Heather, you got this!I know you do.
Last week, my daughter gave birth to a beautiful baby boy named Miles. I will love and cherish him. He is a wonderful gift. And although I have five living grandchildren, Miles is not my fifth grandchild. Jason and Mirada, I want you to know that Miles is, and always will be, grandchild number six.
A Reminder for you,
You got this!
Heather: Recipe for Me–Yield: Makes a half-baked middle-aged woman–Ingredients: 1 part teacher, 2 parts writer, 1 teaspoon photographer, 3 parts mother, and 4 parts publisher–Mix all parts together evenly. Let sit for 52 years in extreme climate conditions and varying degrees of stress and this is what you get.
To read more of Heather’s blog post, follow her at The Moose Pygama Chronicals