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I didn’t set out to finish the race. I didn’t train for it. My dad signed me up for the half marathon months earlier. With health issues plus fighting fatigue and weight gain, I have struggled with doing any running. So with the half marathon at Cocoa Beach looming, I said I would attempt a few miles and leave it at that. And I meant it.
I also didn’t set out to be a grieving mom. No one ever does. But I really thought that Christian would beat the odds. That I’d get to keep my little guy. And yet tomorrow is the anniversary of his death. The day he went to sleep in my arms and never woke up.
So when I got to the corral for the race, I had delusions of finishing. Without training and in the worst shape of 9 years, I thought, “Heck! I can walk this thing!” This time limit is 7 hours. Even with walking 20-23 minute miles like I do everyday, I could finish in less than 7 hours. Did I want to walk that long? Not really, but I knew I could. Why? Because I never give up.
A year ago when Christian died, I knew it was happening the moment I first saw him that morning. And even though my world was falling apart and my heart was shattered, I knew I would be OK… eventually. And that I would make it through the pain and grief of losing my son. I didn’t know how, but I knew I would. Why? Because I persevere no matter what comes my way, even when it’s painful.
And that’s how I found myself about 7 miles into a half marathon. My feet hurt, I had blisters, my hip hurt, and my other knee hurt. But I wasn’t going to give up. I’d had worse pain, both physical and emotional, and I could survive this, too. I looked down at the tattoo on my inner wrist that always reminds me of the little boy I lost, and I knew I could not stop.
Just like I can’t stop fighting to heal and continue in my journey of grief. Tomorrow, December 5th, I will mourn the anniversary of Christian’s death and sadly re-live the awful memories of that day. But that will not stop me from moving forward.
I Couldn’t Do It Without My Friends
With only a few miles to go, I was limping and in lots of pain. I really wanted to stop. It was rough going and I was tired of the effort. And then around the corner I see a hot pink tank top adorned with 3 sets of baby footprints. You see, one of Christian’s NICU nurses, Karyn, was running the race, too. And she had come back for me, supporting and encouraging my much like she did a year ago when Christian died.
And that’s how I finished the race, with Karyn by my side. A friend when I needed it most.
And that is how this year of grief has been. I run so much of the race alone. Persevering through the good and bad. And yet I have been blessed with family and friends who have come on this journey with me, and are often there at the times I need them most, even though they don’t know it.
So while I didn’t set out to finish the race on Sunday, nor did I set out to tackle a year of grief, I made it. I have persevered and hit each obstacle with renewed determination. Although my grief will never be over, in some ways, getting through this first year feels like the end of something. It’s very rarely been easy but there have been many moments of laughter, love, and joy. Much like the race last Sunday. And once again, I know I can get though anything thrown at me. As long as I get a little help from my friends now and then.