|The view from Michael's parent's house in New Mexico, Sierra Blanca|
Most of the readers of this blog follow either my wife, Michael, or me on Facebook. So it's probably not news that we lost Michael's mother on August 28th, and then 18 days later, her father passed away as well. They both had been sick for a while so it wasn't completely unexpected. However, they were only 65 and 67 respectfully, and obviously the proximity of the two events was, and still is, very emotionally difficult on my wife. Immensely compounding both, were geography and schedules.
The geography part of the equation goes like this ... I got the call about Michael's mother while in Idaho for a marathon. Michael and her sisters immediately flew to New Mexico to be with their father. We had the funeral for her mother in New Mexico because her father was too fragile to travel to Kentucky, where she was laid to rest a few days later. We live in Missouri. The only scheduling challenge was me being in Idaho to run a marathon. After receiving the news, I had basically decided not to run it. However, the night before the race, they had still not officially decided when and where the funeral for her mother was going to be. I literally didn't know if I was going to fly back to Missouri, or re-route to New Mexico or Kentucky. And since I was already in Idaho, with the race taking place in a few short hours, we decided that I should go ahead and run it, and then return home, where I then traveled to New Mexico to finally be with my grieving wife.
The passing of her father was a little less complicated as far as the miles, however, it wasn't without challenges. When we got the call about his passing, we were both in Kansas City and immediately traveled to New Mexico to tie up a few loose ends before flying him to Kentucky to be buried with his wife. The scheduling issue with his passing is that my son is getting married on Saturday - which meant I would have to miss his funeral, and Michael would potentially have to miss her step-son's wedding. But actually, at this point it looks like Michael will be able to catch a flight from Kentucky back to KC, just in time for the wedding. So she will literally lay her father to rest on Friday, and then somehow try to celebrate my son's wedding on Saturday. Probably an impossible task to ask of anyone.
Here's the deal ... we're both emotionally spent and physically tired. Michael is obviously mourning the loss of both of her parents in a uniquely short time frame. And while I wasn't especially close to either James Lee or Margaret, it literally kills me to see my wife carrying this burden. Making the matter cruelly worse is the distance that has separated us during both deaths. That's something I almost can't bear. It's not supposed to be like this. I'm supposed to be by her side.
I've tried to get a run in here or there to simply clear my head and keep "moving forward". But it's been almost impossible. I trained hard all summer and wanted to run my fastest marathon and half-marathon in the Fall. I felt like if I could keep myself sharp, good races might still be in the cards. But I spent 15 hours on the road, four separate times over the past three weeks, and twice this week alone. That not only eliminates running the day of the trip, but needless to say, your legs just don't feel like running the next day after no movement the entire day before. I had a pretty good run this past Saturday, but it was much slower than it needs to be to race well in the Fall. My heart is just not in it right now. Every time I try to ramp up to race pace, there's simply no motivation there. So as a result, I'll probably end up backing out of the Prairie Fire Half-Marathon in October. Michael and I will still run the Indy Marathon in November since we've already registered, but at this point, it will just be for fun with no major finish time goal in mind. My year of racing has been effectively shut down, but of course, in the grand scheme of things it's simply not important.
As a boy, David gathered five smooth stones and slung one of them from his sling-shot and slayed Goliath, the giant of the Philistine army. I've had many "Goliaths" that I've slayed in my running career. At times I felt like I was unstoppable. But watching my wife experience this pain and loss has taken much more of an emotional toll on me than I ever thought it would. Sure, not being able to run the races is disappointing ... especially since I felt like I was in the best running shape of my life. But no amount of training or racing will ever take the place of real life, or being by the side of the ones you love. Michael and I will do our best to celebrate my son and his bride on Saturday, but it will definitely be with heavy hearts. And undoubtedly after a while, we'll both get back to training. But for now, this "giant" simply got the best of me.