Release

The last time I posted,  I wrote about running a half-marathon distance.  Since then I have covered another 56 miles.  I would love to write today as always, describing the physical and beautiful visual experiences I have while running, but running for the past 11 days has had nothing to do with that usual pleasure.

Our family has been dealing with two medical crises.  My dad, who was in a rehab facility, finally went home last weekend, one week later than we expected.  He still requires a great deal of care and assistance.  My mom is his primary caregiver, but will have some help from visiting nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and a home health aid until Dad is truly back on his feet.

My husband’s mother has been in and out of the hospital twice, both times with a myriad of physical issues.  After her discharge today, she was transferred to a rehab facility close to us and home.  We are hopeful she will be there until she is stronger and is able to manage her own care a bit better, perhaps for a week or two.

The stress— of worrying about my own parents and supporting my mom as she tries to manage my dad’s health care and the trips to our local hospitals to visit and check on my mother-in-law— has taken a toll on my family and on me.  I’m one of those people who does what must be done to the best of my ability, but that does not make it easy.   I have let go of so much!  I know that none of it really matters in the long run, as long as everyone is clean and fed.   But there is cat hair everywhere, thanks to my two long-haired purring beasts and my vacuum lolling in the closet.  Beds are unchanged; the dust bunnies are rabid and biting.  The kitchen floor crunches under my bare feet.

We have been eating on the fly, with plenty of yucky hospital food and quick but healthful at-home meals.   My daughter turned 16 somewhere in there among all this, and I had to scramble to bake her the cherry pie she requested.  The four of us sat at the kitchen table— my husband, my son, my daughter and I, not feeling very celebratory yet trying to make the best of it— 16 is supposed to be sweet.  The pie was good.  Tart, a little sweet, reflecting us at the moment.

I have not been writing.  Even if I think about writing and consider giving it a go, I sit down and just can’t do it.  My head starts to spin with all that is going on in our lives.  I start to think about what our lives would be like without the people we love so much, and how much sadness is ahead for our family.   I cannot put the words together  to adequately express how I feel without bursting into tears and tossing my keyboard out the window.

The one thing I have kept doing for me is running.

Every morning after I throw the lunches together and take my daughter to school, I grab my gear and go.  There have been a couple of days I stayed in and did P90-X and strength training— jumping until I was breathless, then lifting the heaviest weights I can manage.  But mostly, it’s the running that is keeping me from falling apart.

Some mornings I actually pay attention to the music and the sun and the cool spring air.   Otherwise, I pile on the miles, and with each step I feel release.  My heart beats and my breath comes in long, deep pulls and the world seems to right itself, even if only for that hour or so that I run.  Moving myself mile by mile, I review all my mom has said about my dad’s health and her exhaustion and frustration in caring for him.  I think about all he cannot do for himself, and how hard it is for all of us that they live just far enough away to make frequent trips to help or even just to visit difficult.  As I feel the muscles in my legs flex and strain while I sprint up the biggest hills, I think about my mother-in-law and how afraid she is of every new condition she has been diagnosed with, and how alone  she is in the hospital without her husband by her side, as he was for almost 60 years.  And then I let it all go.  I let myself have just that one thing every day.  I fly down as many hills as my body can take, feeling the rush of air against my skin.  Buildings blur together as I race by.  I melt into the moment and stay there as long as I can.

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One Comment on “Release”

  1. Elizabeth Watson Says:

    This is a challenging time of life; our parents grow old, become ill, etc. etc. You are doing everything right by not abandoning your self-care while caring for your family. Run, girl, run. And don’t worry, the writing will come back when the time is right. Love and hugs to all of you and best wishes of healthful recovery and peace for your parents and Charlotte, too.


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