I'm not a runner - just a mom trying to deal with the death of her daughter. Kristy was a multi-talented woman and a professional athlete. Running helps me to feel her presence. And it offers a little peace. - Kristy's mom
The following entries (from beginning runner to half marathon finisher) represents a continuing journey of tremendous grief and sorrow, and of transformation - largely through the therapeutic power of running. The sorrow that has broken my heart open wide has in time allowed me to experience the beauty of being in the present moment. And of course, without the support of family and friends to guide me, I would not have made it this far.
While we sleep here, elsewhere we are awake. Thus each person is two people.
Jorge Luis Borges
One of Kristy's favorite authors was Paulo Coelho. I once asked Kristy if she had a book I could read while traveling to see my sister Kim. She picked out the book, "Eleven Minutes" and gave it to me as a present. The girl in the book, Maria, says of herself that she is not a "body with a soul, but a soul with a body." Even though we are essentially both I think sometimes they seem to get mixed up. The line gets blurred. When something extraordinary in our lives happens, whether it is good or bad, our world can shift. We can change "bodies".
There seems to be no way to survive the sorrow of death, except to escape to that other part of oneself called the soul. But this is a curious paradox because to gain entrance to the soul I have found it takes a great deal of the body to accomplish. When I have been running long enough I feel as if I am able to distract my body to the point that I am allowed entrance into this other part of myself. The part of me that is awake. The part of me that can still see what my body no longer can.
It is inside this part of me where Kristy now resides.
Today I finished the garden patio area. Your hot tub used to be here. But I really don't use it anymore and I found a great family who were glad to have it. I wish you could be here to sit and enjoy the shade with me. I remember how you told me the garden would make me a "slave" in the summer. It's true. Everything needs to be pampered when it gets hot and dry. I've added a special wind chime. When it makes music it reminds me of you.
I miss you. The seasons are changing yet you remain the same. So alive and so full of beauty.
I am working in the garden this morning. As I attempt to pull the weeds I was suddenly reliving a past experience with Kristy. It was so sweet, I just had to come inside and make sure it was written down.
When Kristy was about 4 or 5 she was losing lots of her baby teeth. One day she came running down the stairs yelling, "Mommy, Mommy - LOOK! I lost my tooth!" She jammed it in my face and said, "I am going to put it under my pillow for the tooth fairy right now!" She turned and ran up the stairs as fast as her legs could go. Just as she reached the top she tripped and fell to her knees. Luckily she wasn't hurt, but as she reached out to grab the stair railing she dropped her precious cargo.
There were many tears. And we looked up and down the stairs for what seemed like an eternity. No tooth. Heart broken, she said, "Do you think I could just draw a picture of it?"
Well, being an experienced "tooth fairy" I had a sudden idea. I went to my jewelry box and dug through the various treasures my children had given to me throughout the years. I finally found what I was looking for. Way in the back was my stash of baby teeth. Surprisingly I must have had at least ten. And as I grabbed one I was hoping Kristy would not realize it was an impostor.
I ran back down the stairs and yelled, "Kristy I found your tooth!" She came pounding down the stairs so quickly I thought for a moment she might fall again. Grabbing it out of my hand, she inspected it and pronounced it her tooth. She had the biggest grin on her face. I can see it now. She turned and walked back up the stairs as if she was carrying a glass full of water. I don't think she breathed until she got to the top.
Later that evening before going to bed I crept into her darkened room. I replaced her treasure with four quarters which was the tooth fairy's going rate at the time. As I slowly left the room I remember smiling to myself. I couldn't wait to see her face in the morning.
I heard this morning someone said, "Death is different to someone who has put a child in the ground." It was a mother speaking of her impending death (she has terminal cancer) and the death of her son years earlier. This is so true I thought it was a universal truth understood by everyone. It was a revelation to the interviewer - so it evidently is not.
So I think it is worth sharing this dreadful yet beautiful truth. When your child has died your life changes in many ways. Some foreseen and some unforeseen. But it is true about feelings of one's own death. I do not think of death as I did before. When I think about death I am strangely at peace. Kristy has already gone before me and there is a comfort in knowing this. I do not believe in a life after death and that I will "see" her again. But I do feel close to her in knowing we will share this one last experience together. For when my time comes, it will be her face I see as I close my eyes.
Time has not and will not lessen my love for her and her importance in my life. She is not alone, as a piece of me has already died and is now with her. Someday we will be reunited. I look forward to this moment.