My mother-in-law died last week. There was no warning, no preparation. She was laughing with friends and then, suddenly, POW. Heart attack.
She never quite understood my love for running. “Why bother exercising if you don’t need to lose weight?” She waved me off to my first half marathon, instructing that I shouldn’t run too fast or try too hard and that I should probably walk as much as possible. She did at least understand that it makes me happy, even making sure our yearly Easter family holiday destinations were running-friendly.
Now she’s gone, I find myself needing to run more. Since the moment I declared myself a runner, I knew it had an effect on my mood and this past week it has become a bandaid for the wound of grief. Each outing offers a release for the sadness and shock and confusion and helplessness, none of which disappear but running lifts part of the weight.
Every solo trot gives me my own head space, away from the rest of the family. Since the news broke, I’ve been living with family, dutifully providing them with a constant supply of tea and cheese on toast. Getting out alone means I can concentrate on myself for a few hours and work through my own grief. Usually, as a rush of endorphins hits, so do the tears but I feel much better and stronger for it.
My plodding rhythm lets my mind wonder if it wants but also provides a focus for when things become too much – there’s no need to think of anything other than putting one foot in front of the other. There is, of course, the longer term focus of training for my first ultramarathon (if Heather had found out, she would have tried to have me committed for lunacy!) which reminds me that life does in deed go on.
We will get over the shock and grief of our loss eventually but for now, running is my therapy.