Thursday, April 7, 2011

Running Through Pain: Why I Must Keep Running

My plane traverses the country from Colorado to New Jersey. We fly into the darkening night as we move farther east. It feels symbolic of what is happening to my family. I've made this flight countless times, and this time I wonder if it will be one of my last. Four years ago I took this flight with my husband and 9 day-old daughter to attend my father's funeral. I knew then that life would begin changing much too fast for my comfort. Now I am off to visit my mother, seriously ill and terrified - thrust into the world of hospitals, and doctors, and tests, and tests, and tests...This faced by a seemingly healthy woman who has never been sick, never been in the hospital (except for childbirth), and looks and acts at least 20 years younger than she is. But cancer ignores all these facts.

These events have left me feeling sad and confused - How can I just go on living my life when my mother is going through all of this? It seems somehow inappropriate to go on doing the things that make me happy, while she is living in a world of abject terror. I look at my beautiful daughter and cry because someday she will die. I sit in the hospital and wonder if this is what awaits me in the not so distant future. When cancer hits, life as we know it, stops. Everything is focused on the war within your body. Your life is now arranged around appointments, and tests, and treatments - to what end? - you know not.

Everyone says: "use running for strength and peace", but my mother has none of that. Life goes on, I am told - but not for everyone - or anyone, really.

So why must I go on running?

Because I have to believe
Because knowing I gave everything, matters
Because of my daughter
Because of my mother
Because I have to try
Because it's more than just a run
Because when I do, there's always a chance...

And this I must tell myself everyday.


  1. Because when its time for God to tap me on the shoulder I want to be able to say, "Yes, I'm ready."

    And I take your use of "running" as a metaphor for life.

    May you have the strength to handle this next hurdle of life. God Bless!

  2. My dad "looked" healthy at Thanksgiving Dinner - I had just run my first 8k.
    In December he was admitted for a blood disease.
    I kept running.
    In January he entered hospice care.
    I had to keep running.
    He died January 31 - I didn't run for a week.
    And then, I kept running. Now he runs with me.
    So I keep running.

    Thanks for your post! Keep running!

  3. @Danny - Yes, "running" is a metaphor for life - otherwise I wouldn't be writing this nor would I keep running ;)
    @Pastor Lee - Yes, we often see these things better in retrospect - And I will keep on running for all the people I love and for me, because that's what I must do - until I die...

  4. You never know how much people separate life passions, so I wanted that little extra caveat.

  5. I never separate life passions ;) What else is there?

  6. You'll give me some time on this, right? I think this is a trick question.

  7. I don't think you really need more time, do you? Really? ;)

  8. Cancer does turn one's life into a terrible rhythm of routines that can impact anyone's ego and sense of self confidence. The fight is one huge uphill battle and although some fight hard but must move on, others fight and succeed.

    My dad fought hard and deep within, I know he knew what his end result was going to be. I remember the last hug and still want to kick myself for not staying with him in Texas longer. If only I knew it was going to be the last hug. Why am I never really able to say a proper goodbye to the ones I love?

    But if my dad and many others can fight this battle with the grace and determination they muster, if they can go ahead and face the challenges and still set an example to others about strength and courage, how can one not run? The challenges a runner faces can huge but I still tell myself they pale in comparison to the fight one has against a disease such as cancer.

    My dad is my hero, my running partner, my guardian angel. He is with me in every run, especially in that final mile in which he compels me to push myself harder, run the distance, go faster and see what can be accomplished.

    I wish you and your mom courage, love, and grace.



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