I was hoping to race during the Memorial day weekend. I was debating about driving to Portage, Indiana and running a 12k trail race or testing my speed and doing a small neighborhood 5k in Villa Park. I had eventually decided on the 12k and was really excited. As many of you know, I’ve been injured and unable to race for a few months. I thought the trail race would be a good opportunity to introduce my legs to racing again without the pressure of the clock. The first race back is always the hardest (and sometimes the most humbling) so I figured the 12k would be an easier way to shock my body into the reality of racing.
I woke up Monday morning and I really wasn’t in racing mode. The thought did cross my mind that maybe it wasn’t a smart idea because my foot isn’t 100% healed and I am just getting over a pretty bad respiratory infection. Despite these things I know I still could have raced, but I didn’t want to, not on Saturday, or Sunday, or even yesterday. Over the weekend, more immediate issues far out-weighed running. Don’t get me wrong, obviously running is a big part of my life and I love training and racing. But, as of last Friday, May 24th, my heart and mind have been with my Aunt.
Not just any Aunt, but one of my favorite Aunts. My Aunt Marge. She has been in my life for as long as I can remember. She has faithfully prayed for me and my family over the years. She has shown me what a life lived for Christ resembles. She doesn’t just talk about her faith but she lives her faith. My Aunt, who still remembers the name of Jesus, but no longer remembers my name, or who I am, or how we are related. My aunt who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
My Aunt, who, while living at the nursing home, lost her balance and fell on four occasions. The fourth fall being extremely bad. She was not very responsive last Thursday and Friday while my mom and I, along with her husband, visited her. She was taken to the emergency room Friday morning, where we learned that both sides of her brain were bleeding and it was not in her best interest to under-go surgery.
At least for me, reality didn’t sink in until Saturday. I went back to the hospital to visit her and the realization struck that she would never walk again, or talk again, or enjoy food, or be able to refresh her thirst. She would never get out of bed again.
She was put under hospice care, and the goal of hospice is not to prolong her life in the most comfortable of ways, but rather keep her comfortable until her time on earth is over.
Sunday night the Doctor said she has approximately 4-5 days left. But yet, they don’t really know. And although we mourn, we “mourn with hope.” (1 Thess. 4:13-18) We know and believe, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that she is awaiting her home in heaven. She is going “home on God’s celestial shores, like a bird from prison bars has flown, she’ll fly away, just a few more weary days, and then she’ll fly away.” Home, free, restored, renewed. Home.
I know that it’s not my time to fly away from life’s pain and struggles, but I can run. And it’s in these moments of life that I like to run in solitude and in silence. It’s on these runs, where I don’t focus on running, but I focus on my thoughts, my emotions, my sadness, my anger, my joy, my confusion, and I ask questions and sometimes I find answers and sometimes I don’t. But somehow, pounding the pavement during these times, allows my mind to focus on Christ and meet with Him and life’s problems become a little easier to face.
I’ve run every day since Friday. I know that’s not a big deal. But yet, on every single one of these runs I have thought of my beloved Aunt Marge wasting away in her hospital bed, unable to move and unable to communicate and I pray that I won’t take the simple pleasure of running and a healthy body and a sound mind for granted.
And soon, my Aunt on “some glad morning, when her life is over, she’ll fly away, to a land where joy shall never end. She’ll fly away.”