Losing It

How are you doing? Ok? Hanging in there? Are you friggin’ sick of people asking you? Yeah, me too, and yet I’m still glad they ask. I think I’m sick of saying “hanging in there” or “ok.” Although generally, I reply with “ok” and have since 2017. If I have a good moment, I let you know but so often people are not asking me during my good moments.

Speaking of good moments, did you have many this week? I hope so. I had a few, but most of my week was filled with bad news, rage and vitriol from others–not just others but other librarians. Wanna hear about it?

My version of the “incident” is that I voiced my opinion on a library listserv about some of the protocols libraries have been following and backed it up with science. But it was still my opinion and said as much. The shit that came at me and another librarian who backed me up was absolutely ridiculous. I was completely discounted by someone because I think they thought I was politically conservative–which is far from the truth but it did make my conservative husband howl with laughter. But another librarian accused myself and my colleague of not caring about our patrons–I am sure if we were in person she would have jabbed her index finger into my chest. If I hadn’t been in a rage before then, I was full fledged into it then. My patrons are why I’m a librarian. I long for the day I can hug many of them. I send cards to them when they’re hurting, I cry and attend funerals when they die, I help them as much as I can while they’re in my library–and even when they’re not. I love them. To say that I don’t care about them was a lie. Period. I responded to the nastiness with civility (mostly) and that was that. I felt betrayed and disillusioned. It’s like when you realize that your parents are not super human, just human. The library community is not entirely filled with kind people. Or if they are typically kind, they’re lashing out because they’re afraid…yet they didn’t have to hit send on that email. They chose to be an asshole.

But at the end of the day–by the way this was Monday (!)–I helped 2 local folks get appointments for their COVID-19 vaccinations. We had been trying to help them for 3 weeks to no avail, but on Monday the system finally worked. This couple was so happy and wanted to send the library a check. I told them no, but if they could come visit after their 2nd vaccination, then that would be the thanks we needed.

Each day for the rest of the week, something shitty happened. Difficult phone calls, tense meetings, sick friends or parents of friends. Most events were not extraordinary, but I cried or lost my cool nearly every time. I feel like I’m only “hanging in there” by an invisible thread and wonder if it’s really hanging ME.

Throughout this week, I have wished for nothing more than to talk with my brother. I do have a sister and great friends and a husband, but Phil was the one I wanted to talk with. He would understand my rage and would agree with me but then make light of it all to make me laugh and to show me that it doesn’t really matter. In the grand scheme of things, it didn’t matter that the eye doctor said you weren’t covered by insurance when you were (yeah, I blew up a bit at that office, too) or that your house is an absolute mess, or that some librarians really are dicks. You just keep going and you don’t worry about that stuff or those people. Just try to laugh at what you can and forget the rest. He would also say something nasty or snarky about the librarians because sometimes it feels good to do that. 🙂

I’m drinking tea at my kitchen counter as I type this, which is where my brother should be. We sat right here for the last meal we ate together. He often sat here drinking tea while I baked and we talked with my boy and would just shoot the shit. I miss those days.

I miss Phil. I miss him so damn much.

This was Phil’s favorite shirt of mine. He laughed out loud the first time he saw it. There are photos of him on my fridge near my ear. I like to see his face every day.

366 days

A year ago tonight, my husband was hooked to a ventilator to try and save his life.

Just over a year ago, my husband had been home sick for a week, thinking it might be the flu. By the weekend, there was crackling in his chest. I kept asking him to let me take him to the hospital, until finally on a Sunday afternoon, he said ok. Wal was so fatigued and weak that he barely made it down our 5 steps into the car. Our son, 12 years old at the time, hovered behind him, willing to help if needed. By the end of that night, we knew Wal had the flu and pneumonia. They checked him into the hospital and the boy and I went home.

The next afternoon, I drove to the hospital and I found my husband on oxygen but still gasping for breath. A respiratory therapist came in to explain what was happening and that without being intubated, he would die. Being the claustrophobic man he is, he refused to be intubated. After the therapist left, I raced to my husband’s bedside with what I’m sure was a scared, shocked and confused look on my face. We discussed the living wills we had just written 3 months before and I reminded him that he had said then that he would be willing to go on a ventilator if he’d be ok and wouldn’t be on it forever. But after watching my brother and parents die so recently, I had to ask: “Do you want to go?” He said no, but said it was getting so hard to breathe and didn’t know how much longer he could hold out. Thankfully, that’s when the doctor came in and we got the process rolling. He didn’t want me to stay and told me to go to our son because he needed me more right then.

It was so hard to leave him that night. I’ve never seen my husband so scared but also so weak and helpless and *needing* help from a procedure that he was afraid of. The next morning I waited to call the hospital from work to see how his night went. I knew they had to put him in a medically-induced coma while on the ventilator, so I’d have to talk to the nurses and doctors. The nurse I spoke to told me he had an extremely rough night and that “his numbers kept crashing” whenever they moved him. She asked if I was coming in but I hadn’t intended to until the next day. I asked if I should come in. Actually…I’m not sure I asked that. I was so afraid they were going to tell me to come in now because he might not make it…I didn’t even want to know.

Isn’t that horrible? I did NOT want to know the truth if the truth was that my husband was going to die—4 months after my mother, 11 months after my father and 2 1/2 years after my brother. No. I didn’t want to know. I don’t remember all of her exact words, but I do remember hanging up after the conversation, laying my head on my desk and crying. I was sitting in the exact same place when the nurse called from my mother’s bedside to tell me my mom was actively dying.

I couldn’t do this. I could NOT go through this right now. What would happen to our son? After all the damn loss we had been through, how was he going to make it to the other side of this?

But…Wal survived that night. And the next. And the next. He was touch and go for that whole week. I wasn’t allowed to see him after the third day because I had the flu and couldn’t come into the ICU. I called each day instead and talked with doctors and nurses, some days they thought his kidneys would fail and we went through one horrific day when they thought he had brain damage and did scans to find out for sure. Then things started to get better. They started to ease up on the medication so he would start to wake up.

Then he didn’t wake up. And didn’t wake up. And didn’t wake up. The day I was allowed to come back and see him, I held his hand for most of the day and read aloud to him and played music for him and just kissed his face when I could find a spot through the tubes and tape and kissed his hand and rubbed his arms. And cried some more.

My dear friend, Tiffany, came to my house one night to bring dinner and she sat with me. We talked while folding laundry and I had a pair of pants that had a long cord to tie in the front. But one side was stuck and I started to lose it because Wally always did it for me. But Tiff took it from me and worked on it and said it was ok. When I said that if he dies, there are so many things I didn’t know how to do in the house, like clean the heat pumps. “Don’t worry,” she said. “You can Google that.” It’s what I needed to hear right then. I’d be ok. No matter what.

And then, on Valentine’s Day, Wal woke up. It was a Friday and I got to talk with him in the afternoon, before the boy and I drove up to see him. Wal was a mess–he actually threw up on me–yet I didn’t care. He was alive. He would have problems, although we didn’t realize that then. His lungs have been irreparably damaged from the infection he ended up getting as well as from the ventilator. We found out this week he may also have had a mild heart attack while in the hospital or there was an anomaly while undergoing the stress test last week. We’re trying to stay positive so we’re going with the anomaly. 😉 But…he’s alive and working and managing. He needs to work on his health more, but I can only bitch at him so much, right?

A high school classmate of mine lost her husband last month. He was 50. They had been married for 25 years, just 2 years more than my husband and I. He was also in a medically-induced coma at the end. I’ve thought of this classmate every day since I heard. I only have an inkling of what she’s going through. I’m living what she had hoped would happen. And she’s living what I feared.

I’m telling you all of this, not only because it’s the anniversary of that horrible time, but also because my husband made me so mad tonight that I went outside and “angry shoveled” for a while. He snapped at me a few times and I was so damn proud for staying calm, so I took all the yelling I would do and put it into thrashing the snow around. I sometimes have to remind myself that I nearly lost the old man last year, and as frustrated he makes me sometimes regarding a wide range of topics, I still don’t want to live without him. Maybe a day or two….but not a lifetime.

Hug the ones you can tonight, talk to the ones you can’t, and remember the ones you wish were still here. ❤

Oh and yes, he did apologize. AFTER I shoveled part of the driveway.

Oh My Deer!

Everywhere you run has its challenges. I’ve only run in a handful of suburbs and cities, but the advantage I see there are sidewalks and more clear paths. But the downside seems to be way too many people. I typically run at my home in rural, central Maine. I’ve been run off the road a time or two, and nearly run over too many times to count. Occasionally I know it’s the conditions, particularly the sun in the driver’s eyes. I know this because my husband almost hit me last fall and was horribly shaken up afterwards. I was wearing everything you’re supposed to wear (lots of reflective gear, bright clothes, etc.) but the sun was in his eyes and he just didn’t see me. But so far I haven’t been physically hurt by a driver. I’ve been splashed by puddles, mud, and slush, but that’s par for the course, right?

But for the past few months, I have enjoyed my running excursions outside immensely. This is why:

In the winter, I rarely run on any road but my own. There is little traffic and my goal is just to get a few miles in outside and do it as safely as possible. Last fall, this beautiful creature started to follow me for about a half mile on some of my runs. (Thank you to Joelle, one of my neighbors, for sharing the video with me.) This past week, Bam Bam, as some people have affectionately called her, has run with me every day. I took this video a few days ago. From what I’ve pieced together from some of the neighbors, this deer’s mother was killed and a family took her in as a fawn so she’d survive. (I say “she” because I’m hoping Bam Bam does not grow up to a large buck that could easily kill me when “in a rut”, or aka breeding season.)

So since the fall, Bam Bam has become like a neighborhood pet. I guess she likes carrots, but not from me. She trusts people more than she should, but she’s an absolute joy to be around. A bunch of the neighbors came out to see her today as she ran behind me, all the way past my house which was new for her. She tends to stay in this small 1/2 mile area, but today she ran over 2 miles with me! (Mostly behind me, once beside me, then near my house she took off in front of me and was so dang graceful and beautiful!)

I’m sure this amazing time won’t last, but I can’t tell you how much joy it brings me. If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook and you’re sick of seeing these types of photos and videos, you might want to block me. As long as Bam Bam is around, I will continue taking photos of this lovely creature. I hope it at least brings a smile to your face.

Another One

I tried to live today like I want my year to be. I wanted to run, read, do a little cleaning, watch a movie, spend time with my son and husband, and eat sushi–all activities I’d like to do for the rest of the year. I actually got to do all of those things, but nothing quite turned out the way I wanted or expected.

My 5k run wasn’t horrible as far as speed or conditions, but I felt absolutely uncomfortable in my body. If you watched me run, you probably thought I had major tics or was having a seizure. I kept moving my shoulders, trying to relax, tucking and untucking my shirt, adjusting my hat, and just flailing about. Nothing felt quite right. I could only focus for a few seconds here and there, but mostly it was just crappy. BUT, the sunshine was wonderful, little wind, and the 27 degrees felt much better than it sounds.

I didn’t read what I should have, but I read the last in a graphic novel series (Fence) that my son and I have been reading and it’s highly enjoyable. I feel no guilt whatsoever for not reading anything for work or my committee.

My son and I took down the outside Christmas lights and decorations. I wish I had a photo of my son taking down Darth Vader and hugging him close. It was damn adorable. My husband made us a lovely ham dinner for lunch and I got a smidge of vacuuming done, but no other cleaning took place. I ended up doing a bit of yoga instead and I think my time was well spent.

For a while everyone did their own thing, so I watched “Blackbird” starring Susan Sarandon. Have you seen it? It’s about a woman who wants to end her life because her ALS is starting to restrict what she can do. She invites her family over for the weekend so they can spend time together and say goodbye. Not really uplifting per se, but I feel very strongly about dying with dignity and wish every state in this country would allow people to die how they choose. Most people don’t even get the chance to die where they want much less dying how they want to.

I didn’t intend to watch this film today, but I borrowed it from the library a few weeks ago and it’s been sitting in front of our television since then. I couldn’t remember what it was about until I put it in and figured, “What the hell.” I’ll be honest, though, I haven’t finished it yet. I just watched a scene where the woman with ALS gives everyone a gift at the table, including her wedding ring which she gives to her husband. I was crying before we got to that part and completely lost it at that moment. I figured it was a good time to stop.

We picked up sushi from our favorite restaurant and brought it home for dinner. We decided we’d have a nice living room picnic and watch “Titans” on HBO Max. Of course, the one thing I really wanted was mistakenly left out of our order–miso soup! It always makes me feel better for anything that ails me. I whined for a few minutes then ate my absolutely fantastic raw fish and rice with my family. At one point my son and I argued and there was slamming of a door and sighing and generally feeling pissed off, and then the moment passed and we finished eating and we were ok. The three of us sat around after watching an episode and just chatted and laughed and enjoyed the moment.

My lovely son being the person he is, stopped and said, “You know this is great. Just hanging out, talking and laughing. This is really great.”

It is. It is really great. THAT is what I want this year and next year and every year I’m on this planet to be. I want it comprised of good conversation, lots of laughing and loving, good food, exercise, reading, time outside–preferably while feeling good inside this body but I’ll work on that. There will always be disappointments and disagreements and grief and stress and more crying than you would think is possible. But I also know there will also be at least a few surprises and encouraging words and acts of kindness and moments of happiness and laughing and many memories. There are so many good memories with those we’ve lost as well as with those that are still here. But there are more good memories to be made.

So let’s go make those good memories, ok? Even a great conversation over the phone or on Zoom can create a great memory. Let’s connect while we can and while we’re still here.

Hugs to you all, my friends.

Breathe Easier

I’ve always loved this time of year: the lights, the music, the food, the gifts and the cheer. But there have been tough holidays, too–the first Christmas without my brother was incredibly horrible. My grief was so overwhelming that I had to smoke a joint before I could leave my room. Last Christmas, the first without either of my parents, I cried every day of December and silently sobbed numerous times on Christmas Day. And I know, for many of you, this Christmas will be lonely or filled with grief. Many of my friends lost a parent this year, a friend lost her adult son, and I lost two friends just in the past month. Or maybe you can’t be with your loved ones because of COVID-19 and you’ll miss the gingerbread cookies or that spiked eggnog your stepfather makes or you’ll just miss the comradery, the hugging, the love.

So…what do you do? How can you get through this holiday with some kind of good cheer?

There’s always Zoom or FaceTime or phone calls. It’s not the same but it can ease the loneliness a bit. Or how about driving a few hours just to drop off a little gift and give a few friends a great big smile at how silly you look?

Penelope Twinkle Toes

Since I know this year has been tough on so many, I wanted to do a little something for a few of my friends. These women are colleagues who have become friends and they’ve done a bit of extra hand-holding with me this past year and although I hope I had reciprocated their kindness, I needed to do more. Hence my adorable outfit. 😉

Since I was little, I loved unicorns. Remember those Lisa Frank stickers and notebooks with the pastel colored unicorns and rainbows and all that jazz? I loved that shit. Still do. And now that I’m closing in on 50 years old, I can embrace my weirdness. I can fly my freak flag high—and wear a purple unicorn onesie wherever and whenever I want. So I traveled over two hours to briefly visit with a few of my friends with a goodie bag of treats in the hopes of making their day. And mine. This was seriously the best gift I may have ever given myself. I absolutely LOVED seeing their surprised faces. It brought me so much joy! It made me a bit envious of Santa–except the landing on roofs or going down chimneys–that part doesn’t look like fun.

I’ve done a few other gift drop offs since my Santa Unicorn day–sans the unicorn outfit–and hope to do a few more. A visit, even if it’s a masked 6 feet away visit, is the best gift anyone can give or receive right now. And if you can’t do that, just send a note. Seriously. Please let people know you’re thinking of them and care for them.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived–that is to have succeeded.” My friend, Tracy, died of cancer last month. She was 47. One of the very last things she ever wrote me was that I was one of the sweetest people she’s ever known. Her words made ME breathe easier. I didn’t know what to do for her and said as much, but then she gave me the ultimate kindness of telling me I’ve done ok. That I’m a decent person.

I don’t know if I made my friends breathe any easier when I showed up at their homes and work places in a unicorn costume, but I made them smile and laugh and tear up a smidge. For now, that will do.

Let’s strive to have more lives breathe easier.

May you all experience joy and good cheer during this holiday season. Hugging you all from afar.

She Flew Away

It’s been a year.

It was cloudy here this morning, much like this day last year. As my husband and I started to watch CBS Sunday Morning, I kept looking outside just after 9am. I kept looking for that sunbeam. I kept looking for her.

You see, I missed the moment Mom died. I left her bedside 5 minutes before she died. My sister was with her, as was the hospice nurse and doctor. The hospice care had just arrived as I was about to leave for my own doctor’s appointment. I remember telling Mom that I’d be right back. Before I even got across town to the doctor’s office, my sister called me.

I had a lot of anger towards Mom for that. For dying when I wasn’t there. And then the hospice doctor told me that just after Mom died, the sun broke through the clouds and shown through the window for just a minute, as if Mom was saying that she was ok. It gave me comfort for a bit, but then that pissed me off, too. I kept thinking, “Really, Mom?!? You sent a message to Bonnie and the doctor, but not to me?!?” Yup. I was that angry and irrational.

But as this year has passed, my anger has turned inward. I was so mad at myself for leaving that day. I really did believe I had the rest of the day to be with her and I felt like I needed to get this appointment out of the way. It was with the surgeon for my broken arm 3 months before, and it still hadn’t healed the way I thought it should, so I wanted to get some clarification. But it could have waited. Nothing was more important at that moment then my mother.

And yet I left.

Like most human beings, I am extremely selfish. And I don’t always make the best choices. On October 4th, 2019, I made a bad choice and I’ll never, ever forget it.

I know if Mom was here, she’d say that it was ok. I was her baby and my health should have come first. But it really didn’t. She was on her deathbed for fuck’s sake! I was absolutely foolish to think I would have the rest of the day with her, and even if I did, why was that enough time when I knew I would never get her back? That I would be motherless for the rest of my life?

Mom & my boy.

So…this morning…no sunbeam. My sister said she saw lots of birds, which makes both of us think of our parents, and she was going to bake today in honor and memory of Mom. I planned to (and did) the same. But I still kept looking for some damn sign.

I have never thought of myself as spiritual. I’m agnostic, which means I don’t know what’s “true” as far as religion goes and have faith in just about nothing. But since 3/4 of my family has died, I am constantly looking for signs that they’re out there. I can’t help it. Part of me thinks it’s ridiculous, but the other part misses my brother and parents so much sometimes that I can’t function so I need to think that they are somehow ok.

This morning, after watching the cloudy skies for a while, I took a quick walk with my son then gathered my running gear to go for a 5-miler. The music I listened to was just background noise as I kept my eyes on the road or sky, thinking about Mom. I tried not to remember last year, but instead thought of myself as a teen, watching Mom cook in our kitchen while I told her about my day. I thought of her knee-slapping laugh when my brother said something extraordinarily naughty and funny. I thought of her face lighting up when my boy entered the room.

I glanced up at the sky at the 2-mile mark, and saw one crow flying alone. No other birds, no other crows, just one bird flying west. I ran along and watched it for as long as I could.

“Hi Mom,” I whispered.

Eventually, the crow flew away and I kept running.

Once I got back home, I’ve basically been baking non-stop. Almond lemon cookies, banana bread, and for the first time, rum cake. Mom made rum cake for every single Christmas and it was always one of my favorite things she baked. I didn’t use her recipe for my first try, and although my family says it’s great, it’s definitely not as good as Mom’s. It’s not as boozy as hers was! I’ll try it again near the holidays.

I had hoped between the running and the baking, I’d feel a bit better, but I don’t. I still can’t believe it’s been a year. Most days it feels like a decade, and other times I relive Mom’s last few days so much that it seems like yesterday.

I want to ask a favor of you. If you knew my mom, I’d love for you to toast her tonight with a cookie or a piece of cake or a drink of any kind. Remember something good about her–about her cooking in the school kitchen, about her laughing at a joke, about her loving her kids and grandkids. And if you never knew my mom, then think about your own–whether living or gone, and toast her. Give praise to her if you can. Let’s send some love out to the universe tonight. ❤

My Whiteboard

I listen to the “Fake Doctors, Real Friends” podcast, featuring Zach Braff and Donald Faison of the television show Scrubs. It’s a great distraction from life and it makes me laugh hysterically when I take walks or do housework. Zach often talks about his whiteboard and how if you want things to happen, you need to visualize them. So he writes things he wants to happen on a whiteboard and places it where he can see it.

I have a whiteboard in my office at work, and I write the annual goals I want to achieve regarding my library. I finally crossed off “Write and adopt a collection development policy” after having it on the list since I was hired. But this summer I added “Do not physically harm another person” after the staff and I had a particular trying day in the library.

I’ve never had a lot of personal goals, though, unless they related to my weight. I STILL want to lose 13 more pounds, but after literally running hundreds of miles this summer AND watching what I eat, that damn scale hasn’t budged. But my pants fit better so I’m throwing my hands up for now!

Occasionally I’ll have a new year’s resolution where I try a new recipe each week or do something that scares me every month, or I’ll have a particular running goal like running a half on my mom’s birthday. But now, after running for nearly 10 years (this December), I have a goal that I’m ready to say out loud. I might even get a whiteboard for home to write it on there, but this is even better than a whiteboard. Because y’all will know what I’m trying to do. The scary part for me is that you’ll also know if I fail.

I told very few people about running a half for Mom–just my husband and maybe a couple of friends. But even with my friends it was just in passing like “I might do this.” Hell, even with my husband, I gave myself lots of outs just in case.

But this is something on my bucket list. This is something I’ve really wanted to do for nearly 10 years, but never thought I had it in me. And yet….I want to have the strength to do this.

I want to run a marathon.

I know, it’s no big deal, right? People do this ALL the time. Yeah, well, it also takes a lot of training and a lot of effort and I honestly don’t even know if my body (or my mind) can do it. But…I really want to and I’m willing to put in the effort to at least try. Being the librarian I am, I’ve been reading books that I own, that my library owns, and ordering a ton of material through interlibrary loan to find a plan that will work for me. I’ve weeded out a few already, but some have just some really great advice or inspirational stories that I’ll probably photocopy to keep me going.

I won’t do an in-person race, even if there are any next year. If I did, it would be the Bay of Fundy International Marathon where you run from Maine to Canada. (Seriously, doesn’t that sound AMAZING?!?) I have a date in mind for next year when I’d like to try and run a marathon at home, but I’m not ready to say the date because as we all know, life can get in the way. Shit happens. I could break my other arm. You never know.

But for now, I’m just throwing my dream out there into the world and I’m hoping I can make it come true. I’ll surround myself with plans and research and opinions. I’ll talk to my doc (who is a runner) and I may even consult a dietician. I’ll buy more running shoes and at least one more pair of shorts. And, of course, I’ll keep running.

If you have run a marathon, I’d love to hear your story or any tips you want to share. I plan to ask at least Kirsten, Kola and Kartika a few questions (and I love that the three friends I know for sure have run a marathon have names that begin with K!).

And who knows? Maybe I’ll even get a tattoo afterwards.

For you, Mom

If you run two half marathons in 3 weeks, does that mean you can say you ran a marathon? 😉 Yeah I didn’t think so, but it was worth a shot.

Today I ran the half marathon I had intended to all summer. I’ve been training since late May for this, and although I ran a half on August 30th (a PR of 2:32), I really wanted to run today in honor and in memory of Mom, on what should have been her 74th birthday.

I’ve had some bad runs lately and haven’t been feeling great–aching shin around the lump in my leg from my treadmill fall, twinge-y right hamstring, and tender left knee. And emotionally I’ve just been…off. I suppose we all have been though, right? I’ve been thinking all week about the amazing women in my life that are gone, but also the incredible women in my life that I still have. I’ve tried to be a really good friend this week, but also I’ve made an effort to be a good person. I wish it always came naturally, but it doesn’t. So this week I tried to reach out to people who I might not usually and just say “hi” or “what can I do for you” or “thank you.”

So with all those thoughts and feelings running through me, I got up this morning and tried to prepare my head and my body for what I would hope be a decent 13.1 miles. I wore lots of black, including my “You Got This” shirt, and an orange ponytail holder that made me think of Mom. (Orange was her favorite color–her kitchen counters were orange!) I told my husband I may call him in an hour, and if not, he knew where to meet me with extra water and Gatorade.

As I began my run, I first concentrated on how my body was feeling. I started out fairly slow and just kept moving forward. The first half of the run would be similar to the half I did three weeks ago, but by the time I reached mile 6, I was in completely new territory…and I loved it. I’ve driven on the Lapoint Road in Stetson many, many times (I take it nearly every day in the winter) but running it is extremely different. I was able to admire the scenery more than usual, that cool little pond I had never been up close to, that adorable sign with the birds that make me laugh out loud and think of both of my parents. Much of the run on this road was serene and absolutely enjoyable–except of course the corners where there was nowhere to run but on the road and there would always be two cars coming in both directions. Every. Single. Time. BUT, most folks were extremely courteous this Sunday morning and I had few problems.

Once I reached mile 9, my husband was there for fluid refills and to cheer me on. This is where I began my 2.5 mile stretch on the dirt road which I knew would be hell on my feet. Large sections of this road now have this weird roller pattern, so when you drive over it you’re bumping up and down and feeling like your car will shake apart. And running on it is no better. As your foot lands on the gravel, it doesn’t know where to go. My large canoes could feel a bump in the arch of my foot while my toes and heels felt like they were sinking. Other parts of the road had so much gravel that I slid on stones several times–but I didn’t fall!

I could hear my mother’s voice so clearly through the entire second half of the run. All my life I would tell her my worries about my ability to do something–whether it be passing a class or moving to Pennsylvania for graduate school or raising my son or even going for a long run–and her response to me was always the same, “You can do it. No problem!” She had such faith in me which I often envied. But today I thought, “Yes. I can do this. My body and my mind can do this.”

Thankfully, once I was off the dirt road, I only had 1.5 miles to go and it wasn’t horrible. And I suppose it wouldn’t be, because Mom was with me the entire way.

Mom and I with a giant beer at the Roadkill Cafe in Greenville, Maine back in 1995.

As I ran to the finish line (my driveway), my son ran with me the last bit while my husband shot a video. It was a good, strong finish (2:36) with a bit of sweat and a few tears.

Happy birthday, Mom. I so wish you were here to enjoy your coffee and blueberry cupcake.

But maybe you’re in a place where you are celebrated like you should be–with lots of fantastic food (especially ice cream) and an endless supply of good, hot coffee. ❤

I love you so much, Mom. I miss you and your badass self. Thank you for loving me and believing in me. I’m trying to do that for myself now. I think I’m doing ok.

Lack of Appreciation

Do you ever feel like you should be more grateful than you are? Do you ever think, “I know I should appreciate this but…”

Right now my life is ok. Some cool things are happening at work, I’m reading and running a lot, and my family is mostly healthy. My house is still standing, we’re not in the path of a wildfire or hurricane, and we currently do not have a virus that could affect our health for the rest of our lives.

And yet…I’m sad and angry but with a few hours of happiness and contentment thrown in.

This afternoon, my son and I took a walk together and chatted about school, work, history and video games. His dark humor and laugh remind me of my brother so much sometimes that it either takes my breath away, makes me tear up, or brings me joy to see some of Phil alive in my boy.

But once our walk was over, I took another walk alone on our rural road to try and center myself. I just felt so out of sorts today. I can’t focus on much, my right hamstring was tight and achy, and I’ve felt the urge to cry all afternoon and evening.

Thoughts of my mother have been pressing on me all day. As I walked tonight, I felt suffocated by the lack of her presence. I miss her. She would often reassure me when I didn’t think I knew what I was doing as a parent. She would coddle me when I got hurt. She never stopped being my mom, even when I needed to become her parent.

And right now I just really want my mom.

But…I can’t have her.

Hence my long walk trying to sort my shit out and be ok with myself and the world and to find a little peace in nature and this rural life I lead.

Take care of yourselves, y’all. Virtual hugs to you. I hope you’re all at least ok, if not more than ok. I hope you’re well and happy and finding peace wherever and whenever you can.

Channeling My Mom

Seven years ago I ran my first half marathon. It was 12 days before my 40th birthday. I called it Holly’s Half and ran near my home. My husband and then 6-year-old son were my “water boys.” It was really hot for an early June day and my goal was just to finish, preferably under 3 hours. I beat my goal by 3 minutes. It was really difficult and I was completely done by the end and was useless the rest of the day. But I was damn proud of myself.

The last time I truly trained for a half was 5 years ago. I even got up to 12 miles on the treadmill. I didn’t want to run the whole 13.1 on the treadmill because I wanted to do it outside the following week. But a few days later I had pancreatitis and ended up in the hospital.

This spring I decided it was time to try again. Seven years have past, 25 pounds have been gained, 1 brother and 2 parents have died, 1 broken arm, 1 dog bite, husband nearly died, various scrapes and bruises have been formed, and 1 pandemic still coping with. Yet I also got a new job, watched my son grow (and grow and grow!) into a person I’m proud to know and love, read a few thousand books, and most importantly? I gave and received so much love that it’s impossible to measure.

I think I wanted to train for a half marathon again because I needed something to reach for and challenge me. And honestly? I also wanted to lose those 25 pounds but have only lost 12 so far. Oh well!

My goal is to run a half on my mother’s birthday–September 20th. She would have been 74. I wanted to do something for myself but thinking of her and channeling her amazing strength and bad-assery.

Today’s run was supposed to be around 10 miles with a few speed intervals in the middle. I have not run more than a mile since my fiasco on the treadmill last week (I fell off at mile 8 and majorly bruised and scraped my legs and arms and took chunks out of my right hand), so I figured I’d do my best but told my husband he may get a call in an hour to come pick me up. 🙂

I set out with my tunes and water bottle and just trotted for a while. My shin ached at the beginning, but it felt good to move my body. The weather was perfect–breezy, mostly cloudy, in the 60s–a touch of fall in the air. At mile 3, I saw a blue heron. My very first sighting! That completely buoyed my spirits even more. So I ran on and on and turned around at mile five on a road that I had not run on before but look forward to going back to. It was serene and lovely with very few houses.

I took a few walking breaks and as I got closer to my home, I thought about my doctor’s visit this week. He gave the ok to run and I told him I recently ran 10 miles. He said, “Oh! Then you got this! Just 3 more and you’re done.” Then I remembered the pancreatitis and a few times in my life when I didn’t say what I wanted to or did not do what I wanted, all because I planned to say or do them later. Yet that “later” never came. I thought of my mom and the pain she worked through and kept going day after day because that’s who she was.

When I turned onto my road my husband was in my car with a water bottle because he was worried. I gasped out, “Gatorade. I’m gonna keep going.” He raced back to our house and was at our mailbox with Gatorade as I passed. I thanked him, drank, walked for a minute and kept running.

This is me today, just after I finished my second half marathon.

My 11th and 12th miles were pretty slow, both over 13 minutes, but most of the others were pretty decent, and I finished in 2 hours and 33 minutes. The Map My Run app wants me to finish about 15 minutes sooner, and maybe I will if I try this again in 3 weeks. Or maybe I’ll say “no thanks” and be happy I could do it today. Either way, I am once again really damn proud of myself. And I am not nearly as tired as the last time I ran a half! I did laundry today, cleaned the shower, vacuumed, and baked bread. I feel pretty darn good.

That’s my poor bruised leg, my kitty Miso licking my forehead, and my step count. I’ve never seen my steps over 20,000 before!

I expect the upcoming work and school week to be a tough one in our household, but I’m hoping that today will keep me “running high” for a few more days and give me a positive perspective on life, at least for this week. 😉

Take care of yourselves, y’all. One day at a time.