Friday, February 28, 2014

The Reason I'm Not Running

I haven't gone for a long run in a very long while. I haven't gone on any short runs either. It has to have been weeks now since I hit the pavement. For a runner, weeks without running feels like a very long time. Yet, I just can't make myself do it. 

One reason for this is that I have been extremely busy. I finally had to admit that there were more important things in life than me getting in my miles. What is more important?  One word: Family. 

The thing I've never shared with you on this blog is that my mother-in-law has been very, very sick for many years. She moved in with my husband and I almost three years ago (just about a month after he and I moved in together).  In that time, we have faced varying levels of health. We've gone through numerous life threatening and life saving surgeries. We've endured radiation, hourly IV medication regimens, and experimental drug treatments.  We've spent countless hours in doctors offices, at physical therapist facilities, and visiting with wound care specialists. My mother-in-law transitioned  through various levels of physical capability, from nearly independent to completely and totally dependent on us. Through it all, it was always the three of us in it together and my husband and I were her daily caregivers. 

If I'm going to be honest, it was my husband who did the vast majority of caregiving. For one, towards the end, I wasn't physically able to aide her the way she needed.  Two, she trusted him more. And, if I really, really have to be honest here, and I really, really don't want to be, but if I have to be, I was more selfish than he. He was always ready and willing to give her anything she needed. 

Something you should know about my husband is that he is his mother's only child. The two of them moved to Texas together when he was seven and she raised him alone in Houston from then on. The bond these two share is palpable. Sure, we wives tend to complain about our mother-in-laws and cringe at the phrase "momma's boy," but the truth is, my husband never would have been the amazing man that I married if it hadn't been for his mother. Being a witness to the care he provided her in the end will be a memory I will always treasure. If I ever have a child, I can only pray that they would love me and provide for me half as well as my husband did his mother. 

My mother-in-law passed away in our home almost a week ago. She died with her son by her side and I know she felt his love as she went. 

Now what does all of this have to do with me not running?  It's not just the fact that the last few weeks were spent trying to be by her side as much as possible. There is more to it than that. I've mentioned many times before what running is to me. Running is my opportunity to escape and be alone with and process my feelings. Running allows me to really take the time to think about and feel about the world around me. And what I've realized is that I'm not ready to do that. 

Since her passing, we've been consumed with all of the details that come with death (let me tell you, there are a lot). In a way, all of these details have been a blessing. They have allowed me to move through the last six days occupied by more than my grief. But, I know that total, complete, and devastating grief is waiting just below the surface. I know that once I strap on the shoes and let running strip away the surface layers, I'm going to be hit square in the face with some serious grief. I'm just not ready for that yet. 

I'm not ready to feel the loss and the sadness. I'm not ready to process all of the regrets I have (there are many and they have been clawing their way into my conscious for a while now). People are so kind and often tell me how lucky she was to have me as a daughter-in-law, but the truth is, I wasn't great. I could have been better and knowing that there isn't another chance to be better is hard to face. And our house is lonely. It has been so quiet and noticeably empty the last few days. I just can't quite face all of this yet. I'm not ready. I will though. I know one day in the not so distant future, something inside of me is going to whisper, "you're ready."  And I will be. When I'm ready, I will lace up and I will set out for a nice long run. And I know I will have one more person watching over me and cheering me on as I go. 

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