Martini Fridays: Hugs, Cat-Sized Bugs, and Other Important Things


Smiles at Disney.
Three generatios of smiles at Disney.

The last two weeks could most charitably be described as “intense.”

They didn’t start that way. Early in the fortnight, I stuck to my loose schedule of runs. Shortly before I was to head out for interval day—because we all need an interval day even if we don’t particularly want one—I called my mom. She’d called that morning at 1 a.m. Neither my husband nor I had heard the phone ring, and she hadn’t left a message.

I’d talked to my mom the day before because my 80-year old stepfather was having surgery. Yesterday, all was well. Until it wasn’t. My stepfather, a label that doesn’t convey how special he was to me, died during the night.

Sometimes death pads up on little cat feet, one wee step at a time; you can see death coming. And, sometimes, it leaps out from behind the bushes and blindsides you.

After I hung up the phone and started to make some preliminary travel plans, I went to the gym and ran my intervals. Because I could—and because the full weight of losing such a good man hadn’t settled in yet.

I worked in a long run the next day, too, just an easy six on my favorite out-and-back. It turns out that it is possible to cry and run. It is not, however, advisable.

While I am not a big believer in fate, sometimes even I can admit that the universe has arranged for what I need most to fall in my lap at just the right time. Two college friends—yes, I did make a few life-long friends at my alma mater—were staying at our place that weekend so that their teenage daughter could race a nearby Spartan run, which she finished. Her medal is a glorious sight to behold.

Quinn and family live in one of the more gorgeous parts of coastal Maine, which is saying something. We meet up once or twice a year. No matter how infrequently we physically see each other, she’s the sort of friend who always feels like she’s around. She’s also one of the best huggers I know. Seriously. If you get a hug from Quinn, you stay hugged for a good long time.

Quinn and Lucy, both doing their own versions of yoga.
Quinn and Lucy, both doing their own versions of yoga.

She’s also a runner. We managed to work in an easy three on Sunday morning before they had to head back north. Later that afternoon, we drove up to Albany so that I could catch a flight to my mom’s at an unholy hour the next morning. But our run was a wonderful capsule of time, where Quinn and I looped the high school track and talked about nothing and everything.

Between the series of pre-dawn plane rides and endless car rides it takes to get to Lee, the wee North Florida town where my mom lives, and the house full of family and the omnipresent grief, I didn’t manage to get any runs in. While my motto may be “run anyway,” I knew my time and energy would need to be spent elsewhere. I didn’t even bother to bring running shoes.

The road leading to my mom’s, however, makes me want to run on it, despite the humidity, the snakes, and the house cat-sized bugs. Every drive up or down it—and there were a lot of those—made my feet itch to get out and get some sweat going. When I cut through downtown Lee on my way to the Jacksonville airport for my flight home, I spotted a flock of brightly colored runners who were about my shape and age running near the one traffic light. I was ready to join them, as well as rejoin my life that had carried on without me while I was in that disconnected pocket of time that surrounds death.

Insert feet here.
Insert feet here.

Re-entry has been tricky. The Tween started running a high fever the day I left and is only now close to her old self. The Husband kept the homestead running, because he is a good and capable man, but the edges got a little ragged with only one parent around. Also, the elves didn’t do any of the work I needed to get done, nor did they clean the house. Stupid elves.

Between the end of the school year award ceremonies and catching up on everything else, I’ve been running. My pace and mileage have been less than spectacular. But something is always better than nothing.

Before too long, I’ll have to transition back into training mode for 13.FUN. For now, I’m doing my best to enjoy every opportunity I have to move this body around. It all goes by too quickly, sometimes, and we forget to take notice of the good things we have.

16 responses to “Martini Fridays: Hugs, Cat-Sized Bugs, and Other Important Things

  1. HUGS!!! I am also returning to the land of normalcy. However, mine was a self-induced 7-day-trip with the family to Disney’s Magic Kingdom and Cocoa Beach where my 9 yr old Daughter experienced everything for the first time. It was glorious and exhausting! I didn’t get a single run in, but I did walk approx. 25 miles in 2 days. On the last day I so wanted to run on the beach while everyone was sleeping, but I also didn’t even bring my running shoes as I knew there was no way to squeeze a run in on this trip.

  2. My heart aches for you and your mom, Adrienne. You are right, “something is better than nothing.” It sounds like you had a whole lotta something with your step-father. And though he has died, you are not left with nothing. You still have all that “something” and more, for both good and bad: the grief and void that the living experience when a loved one passes on. Keep on running. God bless your way.

  3. I am so sorry for the loss you and your family have had. May you be held in the light and love of your family and friends. Thank you for sharing your story here.

  4. I’m so sorry for your loss. Beautiful tribute to your stepfather’s life, friendship, running and life as you carry on.

  5. I ran far and often when my mothers husband died as well, he was a hunter and for a week
    Leading up to his death I saw deer, fox and then a moose

  6. (((hugs))) glad you are able to take some solace in running. I was surprised how much I went to the gym when my mom passed away.

  7. So sorry for your loss. I have found running definitely helps me emotionally, which I figured out with an injury when I wasn’t able to run for 6 weeks.

  8. Thank you for sharing Adrienne. I’m sorry for your loss. Such a great reminder that running mirrors life in that it’s hard sometimes, but just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing. Running reminds me how strong I am. It helps me work out problems, analyze my neurosis, take time to feel graititude for my health, and so much more. Thank goodness I’m slow! All of that stuff takes a lot of time 🙂 keep running and writing girl, and cry as much as you need to. Hugs.

  9. I am so very sorry for your loss. And so beautifully stated that life does carry on, or run on. When I started running a few years ago I never would have thought that it would lead me to such great healing. Running for me has healed so many wounds I carried around not knowing what to do with.

    My prayers are with you and your family. Keep the feet moving. They remind you that you are alive and there are important beings to tend to. Hugs and love

  10. This post makes me wish I had writing skills. It’s always nice for somebody to put into words what I was thinking and feeling. Such is the brain of an accoutant.

  11. I’m sorry to hear of the passing of your stepfather.

    Running is such a life-affirming activity… I think you wove together the two threads so well. The passing of a loved one and the need to use the strong legs and lungs that you’ve worked to develop, to move, to be free of the stillness in the “disconnected pocket of time that surrounds death.”

    Beautiful post. Thank you.

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