This Is Your Life
Confession. I thought the last 6 months had been rough. They were. But the last 6 weeks were like nothing I ever expected, nor experienced. I’ve worked in the Mental Health & Addiction field for 25 years now and know the signs of depression and anxiety, but nothing could really prepare me for this. The cumulative effect of this work was beginning to take its toll. I made no time for running, no yoga, and I felt like it was winning. I talked with my most trusted confidants….my sister and my brother about a huge life decision I was contemplating. I was considering retiring at the end of March. They were just a bit older and had made the same decision and they seemed incredibly happy with it. They were very helpful.
Then it hit me. Like a sledge hammer. In a matter of two weeks my only sister and brother both died from cardiac events. She died that very day we spoke about retiring. He had an open heart surgery the very next day and never woke from it. I think all three of us kids felt a bit ripped off when our parents died in their early and mid-sixties, so to have my sister and brother die so much sooner was totally unexpected. Their deaths were a massive wake-up call to the fact that we only get this one shot and we might as well make it count. The reality and finality of our earthly existence came slamming home in that month. I knew I needed to run. I struggled with whether or not to begin hitting the road again as their cardiac events were very possibly related to a birth defect. I was fast tracked for a series of cardiac tests and when the results finally came back clear, I knew I needed to hit the road. I needed to slay some dragons.
After an absence about two years I strapped on my gear, including a heart rate monitor and hit the pavement. I was uncertain how it would feel both physically and emotionally. After about 12 minutes I could feel that familiar dopamine release, as my head tilted to one side and my body’s limbs found that all to familiar cadence and timing. It felt good. It felt familiar. It allowed me to escape…if only for a while. This was my moving meditation. There was nothing else in my world at this moment but my gaze at the sidewalk three feet in front of me as I put one foot in front of the other. Once I started, I just kept running without stopping. And as the sound of The Hip’s, Ahead By a Century filled my earbuds, it kept resonating, “No Dress Rehearsal, This is Our Life.” This is it. It’s real, and raw and sometimes… really hard. As I thought about what wonderful memories I have of Debbie and John, and how profoundly grateful I am to be alive, I let go. For the first time in weeks, I let go. I gave myself permission to acknowledge what just happened and how profound it is. Just in case you’re a new runner this…..this is why we wear sunglasses. Tears cascaded and blended seamlessly into the wet snow that touched my cheeks.
I realized that the road was my safe place and this run meant I would be okay. I welcomed it back with open arms. My heart was broken…but it was now working hard at recovering and growing stronger. Where the familiar cadence of foot strike intersects with the beat of the music and matching respiration, I was home. I was at home on the road. I reminded me of the Will I just had done. I realized that I already had to amend my final wishes section. I want to be laid out in my running gear, with a fresh pair New Balance 1080V’s and my high visibility Running Room jacket! Suits are much less practical. How I am supposed to outrun the devil in a tie and dress shoes?? The run reminded me how blissful it can be to be out on the road. Truly…when I go, I hope it is out on the road in the middle of a run. A quick, coronary event where I red lined just a little too much. That would be perfect. Hopefully it is over on College Road and some poor stranger will find me overlooking those gorgeous horses in the pasture, propped up against the base of a tree. Know that it could have not been a more beautiful transition. Make it count, relish every blissful and painful, breath filled moment. This is your life, no dress rehearsal.