Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Stay Calm and Carry On

"Stay Calm and Carry On" is one of my favorite life mantra's.  Tonight was one of those evenings were I had to reflect and realize I MUST REMAIN CALM.  I knew what needed to be done and had to diligentaly go about the task, when all I wanted to do was freak out.  It was one of those moments when you dream your worst nightmare and then wake up, only to remember it was reality, the day before.  I know this is what will be happening to me when the sun rises.
This will have to remain a mystery post for awhile.  I cannot disclose the actual event, until, maybe, a year from now, when it is only a distant memory.  It all had to do with a letter I received and enclosed was the kind of news that makes you think there is no way this is happening. 
I immediately had to begin planning my course of action, getting the entire family involved.  Later at 11pm, I joked with everyone, that a family that goes through this together, stays together!  Our evening was dreadful but somehow we all managed to stay positive and not allow this sidetrack event in our lives ruin a moment of happiness.
I am exhausted.  Emotionally spent.  Too tired to move from this computer to go to bed.  Truth be told, I have about a hundred loads of laundry to do and may stay up all night just to finish it.  Too Much To Deal With tonight but that bowl of New York Super Fudge Chunk sure did the right thing!  My husband asked me twice as I was scooping the ice cream into the bowl, "you do know it is 12:30am???"  I knew it would help me stay calm and remain focused so I really didn't care what the heck the clock said. 
I reflect back and I might have got a little upset, somewhat impatient, maybe once, okay, maybe twice?  I certaintly had a lot of questioning going on, wondering out loud sometimes, "why? why? why?"  does it seem like life likes to kick you in the teeth, when you have already received one too many TKO's already?
Stand up again.  Don't whine.  Don't complain.  You must "Stay Calm and Carry On."  I try to be a positive influence on my kids when the tough gets going.  I never want them to feel like they are the victim.  I want to empower them through my example and let them know that they have a choice on how they approach problems that are presented to them.  My philosphy in life is that all of your doors are never shut.  There is a solution if you don't give up.  Researchers say positive people are the "lucky ones" because of this approach in life. 
Tonight I would not have considered myself "lucky" with the situation I was in but I realized things could be much worse and many blessings were spinning around in my mind.  Tonight I knew I needed to write.  It gives me peace and a chance to reflect on what is truly important so I don't fall flat on my face in this race called "life." 
When you wake up, remember to "Stay Calm and Carry On" no matter what is brought your way.  You may surprise yourself what this simple attitude can do when the world seems a little less than cheery.  The dirty little secret is that this attitude is also contagious!  May you have a calm and peaceful day!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Running with Reckless Abandon

My blog posts are sparse.  I wish they were more frequent, as I am inspired by so many occurances throughout my day.  I wanted to sleep tonight.  My mind, however, will not rest.  And here I find myself, once again, writing during the midnight hour.
Today was one of those punch you in the stomach, remind you how beautiful life is, wake up and appreciate every moment because simply said, you don't know when it is going to disappear.
I think I personally went through a whole box of tissues at the memorial service.  I believe I allowed myself to ride in the fast lane and never properly mourned until I heard all those amazing words describing how truly remarkable this person was in his own quiet, genuine, peaceful way.  One of our friends from the inner circle, wrote an incredible eugolgy and spoke at the memorial service.  Scott described Dave as someone he admired, in every aspect of his life, from fatherhood to friendship.  Dave was the type of person who made it effortless to make a connection with him.  Dave was not pretentious and lived an authentic life.  He was the kind of person you would meet once and would never forget.  This was evidenced by the standing room only crowd at the memorial service today.
Dave was one of my husband's best friends who was his roommate at VA Tech.  I lost my best friend two years ago.  Shelly and I were instant BFF's when we were the new kids at the junior high in Montgomery, AL.  Both Shelly and Dave were in our wedding and we remained close to them and their families.  I'm still in disbelief that they are both gone.  With their deaths, I feel like a part of both of us has died too.
Although it was a day spent mourning an outstanding individual, this blog post is not about sadness.  It is about an awareness of how the universe works in mysterious ways.  Another friend and I were talking about why is it, that the good die young?  I was explaining how this is the fourth really good friend to pass away in the last two years.  I explained how these friends never once complained about their situation, or about how unfair life was, and until the very end, they were still concerned for others.  And now they are angels dancing in Heaven.
I know Dave's parents through a support group that I used to run and to see them today, at the memorial service was surreal.  I realized we now shared a sacred bond.  We both had to say goodbye to our son's who left this world too early.  They had the gift of loving Dave for forty three years.  I only imagined a life with our son who we lost 27 weeks in utero.  Pale comparisons I know, but we both have experienced the pain of losing a child.  It is not supposed to be this way.  Nothing can prepare you for the heartache.
Two girls left behind without a Mommy, when Shelly passed away and this week, history repeated itself with two girls left behind without a Daddy.  I wanted to scoop them up and tell them it will be okay but inside my heart, I know their journey ahead is going to be painful. 
I am the master of grief.  For ten years, I helped families process their worst nightmare.  At the memorial service today, watching all of those people grieve and let go of their tears was difficult.  I wanted to offer a tissue to everyone of them and give them a gentle hug.  Sometimes I wish my heart didn't feel so damn much.  Sometimes the emotional stimuli can be overwhelming but there is something inside of me that pulls me towards the grieving.
When I hugged Dave's widow, who is also my very close friend, I didn't say a word.  I wanted to absorb her pain.  I wanted her to know, without saying a word, I was her rock and she can lean on me anytime.
Hours passed at the gathering afterwards, remincing our dear friend and the fond memories and how we would never forget how Dave made us all a better person.  I was emotionally drained.  My mascara was washed away from my endless tears.  As we said goodbye, I thought about crawling into bed and just letting my tears drift me into a state of slumber.  So many memories today of not just Dave but of my other friends who are no longer here to share our lives together.  How does one process SO MUCH GRIEF????
Instead of therapy, I run with reckless abandon.  However, I cannot endorse this for others.
It was just before 8:00pm when I finally got out the door.  I was wearing dark clothes with no reflectors.  I had every intention of a "short run" because my husband was concerned about the "boogie men" lurking in the bushes.  I was listening to my music at full blast, my thoughts drifted and somehow I forgot to turn around at mile 2.  I kept on running and running.  It was my escape from the ugliness. 
The moonlight guided my path.  I was energized.  I swear I think the moonlight makes me run faster.  I thought about my Why Marathon Ambassador teammates and how amazingly fast they are without a worry in the world, I thought about my premature son who won his age group after running his first ever 5K with sub 8 minute miles, I thought about my friend who trained endlessly to finish her first Half IronMan, I thought about my new running partner and how she told me to increase my stride by trying to put only one foot in each sidewalk square.  And I thought about how cancer really, really sucks and I wanted to punch it right back in the gut.  So that is what I did as I ran in the dark, past the bushes with the supposedly "boogie men," getting lost in my music, and running as fast as I could.  I didn't care if I got injured.  I didn't care that it wasn't a race.  I didn't care that is was not the twilight run I had imagined but instead, it was darkness and a moonlight path.  I was making a point to myself to LIVE in that very moment and to push my limitations.
While running back home, I came up with the title of this blog post but today was so much more than about my run.  Today was bigger than life.  It was the universe speaking to all of us at that memorial service, telling us to focus on the positive, and to take away the goodness we learned from Dave and spread it out into the world so he can live on.  We must live our lives with reckless abandon, to not be afraid to try new experiences, we must chase after our dreams because if we don't, a little piece of us dies while we are supposed to be living and appreciating and soaking in all the wonderment there is to discover Every Single Day.  Just like you did Dave.  May you soar like an eagle in Heaven. 
                                              ~ Rest in peace, Dave Tobias.~

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Embracing the Gift of Life

Tonight I wanted to put on my running shoes and run underneath the midnight sky.  I wanted the stars to shine down upon me.  I needed healing energy from Above.  This scenerio, unfortunately, was not a possiblity for me this evening.  Instead, I will let my thoughts pour onto the screen.

I thought my next post was going to be all about birthdays, and celebrating for weeks on end.  After all, I have had a fabulously fun two weeks plus celebrating my "22nd" bday.  I had the words for my blog post already written in my head.  I also had visions of sharing the celebration of life and the human spirit and goodness in the world, after the completion of the March for Babies walk this past Sunday that I helped to orchestrate.  But I just couldn't find the time to get the words out of my mind.  The last two weeks have brought on a significant decrease in my running and my writing.  My focus has been narrow minded but it needed to be done, in order for me to be a witness to my first successful March for Babies walk and to celebrate my birthday properly.  I was going a hundred miles minute and I had to gently remind myself several times to "just breathe and enjoy the moment."

And then life came to a crashing halt. 

Our elderly dog was not doing well throughout the night.  My husband and I had talks about how this weekend might be her time.  Call it denial but this talk is a repeat and we always convince ourselves that she is doing better.  But this time I see the pain in her movements.  She is experiencing a new level of wanting to sleep and not wake up, for anything.  And just when I'm thinking of how inhumane it is to let her suffer, I receive an e-mail from a dear friend.  Her husband does not qualify for the experimental treatment because his body cannot process the lethal chemo.  It would be considered unethical and a form of assisted suicide.  Instead, the decision has been made to start Hospice with injections of Morphine.  One has to ask what is the quality of life when you are so drugged up in your bed, living out your final days, as your loved ones surround you with tearful goodbyes?  Do you understand the irony here??  Our elderly dog will be put down to end her pain and suffering.  There is no Hospice or morphine involved.  Why is it considered "unethical" to try an experimental drug and offer hope for a miracle to our friend who has already been given six months or less to live? 

Maybe I should have waited to write this post?  I am still processing it all.  My heart is heavy for our friend and his family.  I keep asking God when the ugliness will end.  Why do the good, really, really good people experience the most suffering?  Is it so that we can learn from them?  They are an example to others how they handle pain and agony with grace and a giving heart.  You never hear them complain.  A certain acceptance takes over and they are given an understanding of what it is in life you should appreciate.

In less than three years, I have been a witness to death with several of my best friends.  I wish I could somehow forget the ugliness that they were each faced.  Instead, I stayed close and their struggles have forever changed who I am and my approach to life.

Some would say I need to slow down. They ask how I do it all.  For me, it is not a choice.  I embrace my life.  I live life without regrets after seeing death knock on the door too soon, too many times, to some of the most wonderful people. 

In a moment, your life can change forever.  We cannot take anything for granted.  We must appreciate our blessings.  We should celebrate every moment.  New experiences must be checked off the bucket list.  We must understand that we are all in this together.  We must treat each other with kindness.  It is important to always accept an opportunity to be with cherished friends and family.  You never know if it will be the last time you are with that person.

We must demonstrate grace.  We must accept one another.  Ugliness will always be present in our lives but it is up to each one of us to strive for goodness.  Our time is limited so don't wait until tomorrow, your moment is here and now, to bring goodness into the world.  Life is truly a gift. I am mindful of this and make my best effort to live life each day to the fullest. 

As I blew out my birthday candles this year, I thanked God for the many blessings that have been bestowed upon me.  And I made it my birthday wish, to dissipate the ugliness in life by striving for ways to help make this world a better place.