Two years ago today I lost the woman who mattered most to me in the world. The woman who inadvertently got me running fierce. My grandmother. My kick ass 102.5 year old grandma. And, yes, that half year matters. Just like when you are five. When you hit 100 you start doing half years again. I think it's surely earned. And, dammit, she earned it. Honestly, I had no doubt she'd make 103. So close. She tried so hard to make it to.
It's mid morning already. And, I have yet to decide it this will be a hard day or not. I still cannot believe she's gone. Two years already and I still feel like she's with me. She was with me for SO much of my life. It's just strange not to have her there. She was always there. And, now she's not.
She lived a very healthy 102 years. In her own home. With my grandfather, until his death in 1986. She lived next door to my family. For my entire life. So, she was very present. It was only her last few months that her health started to fail her. I was in denial. I was sure she would live forever. This could not be so.
I was already running a bit. Here and there. 5.5 miles on my running trail was my long run. But, I was consistent. It was easy.
When she got sick, and sicker. I needed and outlet. For my emotions. For my fears. Running was there for me.
I was grandma's main caregiver. I prepared her meals. I bathed her. When you find yourself bathing a parent, or grandparent, or other close relative you normally don't bathe it's an odd feeling. It's a very intimate and intense thing. By, this, I mean that the look in their eyes as you do this is intense. Embarrassment goes out the door. Instead, deep gratitude is what I felt. When you get to this moment of caregiving there's no turning back. They know. You know. Each and every time I did this I got an extremely strong, and somewhat sad looking, "thank you". And, each time, I would give back a "Absolutely. You're very welcome." Then a shared smile.
I tucked her in bed each night. I was the one who picked her up off the floor when I found that she had fallen. I was the one deciding when things were beyond me and we had to go to the hospital.
She was in the hospital for days on end. Then she moved to a nursing home. I visited before work and had breakfast with her. I went straight from work to have dinner with her. I stayed until it was bedtime and then I tucked her in and said goodnight. He smile the last thing I saw as I left.
I then went home headed outside, and ran. I was physically and emotionally exhausted. 9pm. 10 pm. 11 pm. Whatever. I think one run had me finish after midnight.
I needed the run. I was the one holding my family together. But, nobody was holding me together. I had no one to talk to. No one to listen to me. No one to cry to. Running was all those things to me.
Running saved me when I felt like I was dying with grandma.
As you know, my running is iffy at best these days. Constant injuries are plaguing me. I know some people question my motivation. I sometimes question my motivation. But, I know, if my body would allow I would be out there as often as I could. Because I know what it did for me when I needed it most. I know what it can do for me.
I had zero time for anything when grandma was sick. Yet, I found time for running. I had to. Life is busy for me these days. But, surely nothing can ever overtake me as much as that time with grandma.
Lisa and I have talked about how weird it is sometimes that even though life is busy, nothing is as overwhelming as when a loved one is dying. Yet, we both were running our best during these times. She running fast and furious as her mother was dying. Me, with grandma. It's a weird feeling and so hard to explain. If you have never lost someone very close to you, it may be hard to understand. And, honestly, I hope you never have to understand.
So, today I think about grandma. And, remember how much I love her and miss her. I also think about how, even though she never knew it, she got me to get my run on. Even after she was gone, she had a hand on my shoulder. Well, okay, maybe not my shoulder. She was 4'8"ish and I'm 5'10". Giggle. We were an odd pair. But, that's what was so great.
I wish you all could have met her. She was a cute little bugger. She was so very kind. She was so very sweet. She was funny. She had a hidden hard edge side. She loved taking care of people. She made me giggle.
She was my grandma. I still miss her so.
But, I promise, some day I will be injury free and will run those runs just like I used to. For grandma. But, more importantly. For me.