Life. Death. Running. What is the connection between the three?
Death makes you stop in your tracks. Literally for the one who has experienced it, however, I am referring to those who are remain after it has swept by. One minute everything is under control and in a matter of hours, chaos. April 1 started seemingly usual as I returned emails and phone calls. I distinctly remember that I was planning on going for a run that day but was extremely busy and could not find the time to squeeze in something, anything. It was then that I found myself catching up on school work (I am an MBA student) and the phone call came. My dad indicated that my grandma was going into surgery. Ironic, since I just called the hospital and left a message with her roommate who mentioned she was getting tests performed. I asked her to call her granddaughter and she asked which one. I responded, “her only one.”
My grandma was just admitted into the hospital a couple of days before and was planning on being released on Good Friday. My dad gave no reason that this was anything to be worried about. I would soon find out that he truly did not have any indication of the events that were to come. I hung up the phone, said a short prayer and continued my reading. I had an ominous feeling that I could not place. Within the hour, dad called back, his voice stricken with panic. He said that it is more serious than originally thought. Can you go and pick up your mother from work? Sure I said, trying to hide my fear. As I am on my way to go pick up my mother from work, the following words flash across my phone: “If you want to see your grandma, get here as soon as you can” – Dad
This was all he needed to say. For me that meant that everything is going wrong and her time is limited. Calling my neighbors to watch my children, we arrive at the hospital. The old cliché is true that you can never be prepared for when you see a loved one lying there. Shortly after, she opened her eyes and through her pain communicated that she was “at peace.” More importantly she knew we were there. Several hours passed and her breathing became more and more labored. My dad and aunt, her two children are holding her hands. The clock is ticking and it took all that I had not to get up and scream thinking that we are just waiting for death to come. The chaplain walks in and she starts quoting Pslam 23. It was at that very moment that the angels came for her. Ironic that her passing would come in the holiest of times for someone who was deeply religious; the day before Good Friday or Maundy Thursday.
After a long night, I come home. My children are sleeping and my husband is out of town, unable to catch a flight till the next day. My mind wonders. I feel like I am in a dream and that so much has happened in one day, or has it really? Everything is foggy. Logically I know that she was 88 and lived a good life, but the pain and guilt are real. I was suppose to have lunch with her today so that she could see her great-grandson and now she is gone. Why did I reschedule? What made me think that having the landscapers come over was more important? I am wrenched with guilt. Guilt that I reschueled. Guilt that I have not seen her since Christmas. I would call, but “things” came up and I never made a visit. I had every intention but what are intentions good for now?
After a fitful sleep, I take my children to school and before getting work done, I go for a run. It is the only thing that I can think to do. Truthfully, I wanted to lace up my shoes at 2 o’clock in the morning, but realized that it was not a smart idea to run the risk of having the police at my house because I went AWOL. Running is truly my therapy. It is what clears my head and in this instance, made me feel. Feel my breath. Feel my muscles burning and aching. Feel my feet rhythmically striking the ground. Feel my heart beating out of my chest. I needed to feel the pain to make me realize that I am alive. Over the next couple of months, I continue to run, a lot. I am not able to eek out much writing but I am feeling more and more “at peace.” In a different way, I now see what my grandma was referring to. We all have our own journeys to take, albeit some shorter and some longer. Make every moment count so that when the road ends you are “at peace.” I know I will as I continue to run, write, and love this life.
To everything there is a season
And a time for every purpose under heaven
A time to be born, a time to die – The Byrds
And the angels have come for her…Rest in Peace Jeanette Dallas.
Till we meet again!