Saturday, December 13, 2014

1 Year And Cloudy Memories

In this life we will not walk the path that we paved for ourselves. There WILL be detours and many bumps in the road trying to lead us astray. How we navigate these obstacles or hardships will determine the outcome and if they will strengthen us or beat us down. 

This weekend I got to Kiawah Island for packet pickup and was greeted by two very sweet ladies volunteering at the expo. They had set my packet and bib aside because it was a special gift bag full of goodies, a Christmas card, running gear, and a personally signed card by all of the staff. 
Huge thanks, love and hugs to the Kiawah Island Marathon staff for taking the time our of their crazy hectic schedule to do this. This gesture really touched my heart and made this weekend that much more special to me. Saturday morning at the run, everything, everyone just seemed to be drowned out as I put on my music and slipped deep into thoughts and memories trying to direct them towards those of a more positive nature. Miles 1-10 are pretty much a blur to me as I was so zoned out thinking of Adrienne, this last years hardships, and the years before that that we shared and created so many memories. I cannot think of a healthier, more uplifting, satisfying way that this day could have been spent. Throughout the entire run I just kept talking to Adrienne, pushing a little harder and feeding off the display of strength, courage and Faith that she had as she battled for her life. Flooded with these thoughts there was no way that I could leave an ounce of energy on the trail but rather give all that I had until the end. 

The high of the run, the weekend away and staying busy really helped get through this day and I am so glad that this opportunity was put before me. Returning home after the dust settles and all dies down was a bit difficult for me. This was a painful realization that just because the 1 year mark is now in the past that this journey is not going to be any easier. It does not put the loving company of my wife back in my home, her warmth back in my bed nor does it mend the broken hearts from her absence. There is one thing that this date, time frame or anniversary does do though and that is allow me/us to be grateful for what we have overcome. Although this is so SO much easier said than done, just looking back 1 year ago to complete mess that I was I honestly never thought that this day would come with any thoughts of joy whatsoever. I was wrong. Today, 1 year after losing my wife, I am able to think of her memory with more joy rather than pain. The pain is still most definitely there, very real and very deep but it is not so overwhelming that it controls my thoughts filling them with negativity. Looking at all that has happened in this 1 year I find many of the moments a blur, like I was just going through the motions to get through each day. This year was exactly like an Ocean, at times the waves were crashing over time and time again leaving me barely able to keep my head above the water for air. At other times it seemed calm and peaceful allowing me to catch my breath and recharge for the next "struggle" or phase of grief. The memories of you are still very defined and clear and that is all that matters.  This one year gone is just the first of many that your legacy, beauty and loving heart will be shared with many people continuing to touch lives. Love you Forever 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Running Through Barriers, Kiawah Island 1/2 Marathon

Steady like the winding flow of a river, Rhythmic as the ticking of a clock, I put one foot in front of the other, gaining ground and moving forward, just one stride at a time.  One mile, Two miles, then Three, with pains sneaking in between here & there trying to get me to give up or stop. Occasional thoughts enter my mind trying so hard to persuade me into giving up or slowing down but I push them out with positive thoughts and loving memories. My mind wonders here and there, trying to find reason in situations whether past or present. As my strides continue, as does the therapy session, leaving all the negativity and weight caused by those thoughts on the trail behind me.

There is no book or guide on how to grieve and heal from trials we face in our lives. One action may work well to help one person cope as where another would gain nothing from it, and one that worked for us at one point may not work for us tomorrow leaving us searching for that comfort in knowing that we are in fact healing and "making progress." Truth is, there are so many ups and downs in the journey that beating ourselves up when we feel as if we regressed a hair is not worth it, but embracing each moment no matter how painful they are tends to help me. Let the tears fall, get rid of the anger, and for me the hardest is overcoming the guilt in should haves, could haves or what ifs... For me one concrete and MAJOR support in healing has been running.

I started running when a large group of friends and family signed up for the fundraiser Miles4Melanoma in April of 2013, doing this in honor of a friend, sister, daughter, Aunt and WIFE. Tears flowed violently from my eyes at the finish line of that 5k, not because I ran it but because of what I ran for and the meaning behind it all.  I had forgotten how uplifting running can be and just how much it relates to our everyday lives. There are walls that you have to push through, your mind will tell you that YOU CAN'T and when we realize that WE CAN and do, barriers are trampled down leaving us so uplifted with clear thoughts ready to take on the journey before us.

I never thought that a half marathon would be something I wanted to do, or could do, but lately the longing for a sense of accomplishment or fulfillment has guided me in that direction. I ran my first Half in Savannah, GA in November. As I stated before this was the first time that I returned to Savannah since Adrienne and I were married there in March of 2012. This was another very emotional Day for me but altogether I cannot think of a better way to have planned out the first return visit to where we exchanged our vows not long ago. This Saturday is the Kiawah Island Half Marathon that I signed up for just minutes after hearing the date. December 13th... That marks 1 year since Adrienne passed away... I have been so anxious about this date approaching and had no idea what I was going to do but knew one thing for certain, that I was not going to spend it in the solitude of my home where it would be much more difficult.

As we do in running, the same holds true in life, we can choose to take that next stride forward not knowing where it will take us, just steadily putting one foot in front of the other. Pains will come and go trying to throw us off course along the way. Our thoughts are powerful and influence every decision we make so what we fill them with will directly impact the choices we make. Our ability to flush out the bad and negativity leaves us with very POWERFUL ability to make CHOICES with a clear mind. This is why I fell in love with running, and every single run I take, every step, thoughts of my wife fill my mind giving me strength to push through and continue on. I have been dreading this 1 year mark for quite some time but hope and pray that I will look back on it and see growth as well as have the ability to savor the beautiful memories with more joy rather than pain.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Weekend Thoughts

Today was an absolutely beautiful day. The sun was shining bright casting  its warm glow on all it touched. Thoughts of you have been heavily on my mind as the holiday season approaches, bringing with it some painful memories from the year passed. I cant even grasp the fact that it is now December, that nearly a year has gone since we lost you. The anxiety of the fast approaching dates has been unbearable at times.

Around this time last year we were living with your parents as we were constantly in and out of the hospital for appointments, treatments, scans, tests and many other overnight stays. Around the 6th of December was when that hospital room became our little one bedroom apartment to unknowingly spend our last moments together side by side, hand in hand. Many of those nights after all of the visitors had left I would lay by your side and play our favorite music or go through photos from all of our amazing experiences shared throughout the course of our relationship. The pain i felt then is still very real and so deep. I never let you see me cry or showed my fear as I thought my weakness may scare you and that is the very last thing that I wanted.

I do not question the events that took place nearly as much now as I did months ago but I do wish that I could just lay there by your side and talk with you for one last time, to comfort you, hold you and just be in your presence. I have still been struggling with guilt, some call it survivor's guilt but whatever it is, I do not enjoy it as it clouds my mind and alters my ability to make decisions. Slow and steady is what I continuously tell myself when i feel overwhelmed and even if I have to crawl to keep trekking forward then so be it.

This week we are ordering all of the tablets with the money raised from the fundraiser in your honor. The outcome was amazing and seeing it all come to fruition brings so much joy to my heart. At times it seems that little acts of kindness in this great big world do not make a difference or reach out and touch peoples hearts. If we all had that mentality thinking that "it wont make a difference" how dark and sad would that be? If one person is touched from this, one family, one child brought hope or joy at all then it was worth it! Your kindness lives on through the hearts of all our friends, our family and the many others that you impacted in the 26 years you lived your life. You made a difference and continue making a difference even when you are not here. Please give us all strength this holiday season to get through with thoughts and joyful memories of you on our minds rather than sulking and flooding our pillows with tears. Thank you for loving me as you did and thank you for making me a better man.