It’s every where: t-shirts, mugs, pretty graphics on social media, and even my blog. Staring back at us daily are messages of courage, strength, dreaming big, living bold, choosing joy, etc. We must live big. We must embrace the present. We must chase big dreams and push harder than we expected. We must over come.
I believe all of this. I do. I embrace it. I try to live it. But sometimes life demands you stop. It slams on the brakes. If you don’t stop, you’ll crash. Thursday was one of those days for me. As I got out of the shower, I saw the look on Christian’s face. I hoped he wasn’t grumpy because we had a vacation waiting for us on the other side of the work day. When he opened his mouth and no words came out, I knew it was so much more. Then words came out, and I couldn’t comprehend them. Justin died. I made him repeat it over and over again. There was no way. Those two words never belonged together. We just talked. They just went surfing and had beers.
Justin wasn’t just a friend. He was our glue. He was the one person who could always steer Christian. He was honest. He was authentic. He saw the path people needed to take for themselves. He was light. He was an illuminator.
When Christian and I started to plan our wedding our biggest challenge was how we’d actually get married. Church isn’t our place. Getting married in a courtroom didn’t feel authentic to our marriage. We wanted intimacy. We wanted someone who knew us, saw us, and celebrated with us. Justin was that person. He married Christian and I on the beach 7 years ago. It was everything we wanted.
With tears I made it through the work day Thursday. Christian and I hazily packed up our truck and our kids, and we headed south. We were headed in the direction Justin had just headed days before.
This weekend was bitter sweet. For every squeal of delight as my boys caught wave after wave, a quiet sadness followed. All of a sudden being strong and courageous has no appeal. Chasing big dreams doesn’t matter. Existing in the small moments does. I’m embarrassed for ever claiming something bigger mattered more.
Saturday morning I headed out for my first long run of this training cycle. I had 8 miles to conquer. I made it a block. The feels-like temperature of 90 degrees at 6:00am took my breath away. I made it another block. Sadness clung to me. I ran one more block, and I gave in.
I’m sad. And it’s okay. I don’t have to be strong or brave. I don’t have to be anything other than sad. I walked for two miles. I reached out to a trusted friend. I sat on a bench overlooking the sound, and I let the wind blow away my tears.
I walked back to the beach house. I still let myself be sad.
Initially I felt defeated. All my teammates overcame the heat. They overcame their obstacles. They fought back, and they won. I lost. I gave in.
Today we took a detour on our way home. Every summer I say I want to climb to the top of a lighthouse. I never go. Today that changed.
Today more sadness clung to me. I learned of another loss with a nearly identical story to Justin’s: a medical emergency that ended in loss. Another illuminator in my life is gone. A person I secretly had a crush on is gone. The person who made me feel pretty during my divorce is gone.
I don’t think my boys realized how much I needed to see that lighthouse today, but I’m so grateful they all wanted to go. I needed to stand on the ground of a home that illuminates. I wanted to climb to the top to see a path before me. I wanted to share it with my boys.
Today as the weekend comes to end, I don’t care about 8 miles turned into a 2 mile walk. I don’t care about dreaming big or living large. Living small feels really important right now. Living exactly where I’m at feels really important right now.
I’m fortunate to have an office across the hall from my running coach. I’m also down the hall from my other running coach. I’m surround by mentorship and inspiration. I’m surrounded by people who shine their light on me. A day doesn’t pass that I’m not given a tidbit or a reminder of how to thrive. This work environment is nurturing me to be my best.
Before my first run of this training cycle I was reminded that my gift in life isn’t running. It’s not my writing. It’s my ability to connect. This training cycle is another opportunity to tell a story someone may need to hear.
Today all I want is to abandon being strong. I don’t want to show anyone that they can tough it out through hard times. I am not an example of overcoming. I am sad, I feel a hole in my being, and I walked 2 miles instead of running 8.
Today I’m existing. Today my existence includes sadness. This weekend getting out of bed and stepping outside took all my strength. I couldn’t run. I walked slowly. I allowed myself to be sad. I allowed fresh air to nurture me. That is all I had to give.
The timing of this couldn’t be more perfect. I’m not pacing this season. My friends are getting speedy. I’m slowing down. Now is the time to turn inward. It’s time for selfcare. It’s time for me to give to myself.
I’m craving small and real. I want meaning. I want to feel whatever the sunrise gives me. Last training cycle I want an exclamation point. This training cycle I want the empty space between paragraphs. I want the pause between moments.
Somehow I’m hitting pause and running a marathon. They don’t naturally go together. I’ll figure it out as I go.