Sweat and Salt: Summer Training Blog

Wish You Were Here

Author’s Note: This is a different type of ‘Running’ and ‘Salty’ post.

Left, my mom and her friend Judy, in London. C. 1960-something

Left, my mom and her friend Judy, in London.
C. 1960-something

Last week, a friend of mine said to me, “I’m sorry it has been a year already.” Her words were the perfect summation; the perfect phrase.  Exactly, two weeks ago was the first anniversary of my mother’s death; today is the first anniversary of goodbye; her funeral. Seasons come and go. We roll out the holiday decorations, we count down the days, we bake the cookies and attend the parties, and then we pack it all up again for the next year. And we can’t believe another year has passed as we ring in the New Year. But this feeling is different. It is a year counted in loss; to think about what I was going through this time last year and what has happened since. Somehow I have made it through a full year without a hug, a conversation or a kiss from someone who was present in my life for 30 years is astounding. A year without. A year in which I survived, and in which I feel a bit guilty for doing so. Shouldn’t I be visually cracked? Isn’t that how we know it’s important? Do silence fractures and fissions adequately portray enough sadness? Or maybe it is perpetual bruising under the surface that indicates a loss that is ever present but deeply personal. This is why my friend’s words were so perfect. Acknowledgment that death is still hard a year later and that time is not a Band-Aid, loss is not diminished. Time is a goon.

This time last year, I had pillars of support; a Corinthian column who was living with me when my mother’s health was in decline and after. And an Ionic column who was standing beside me in Peru the day I learned of her death. The worst part of death is going through it alone, so being surrounded by company made the situation less lonely. My friends did as pillars do: provided strength and a body to lean on and comfort. This year, in fear of being alone, I escaped to the only place I knew I could go to combat sadness, London. London, where I left part of my heart in 2011 and the city my mother first introduced me to in 1998, which I not only credit for instilling in me a love of travel but with an obsession of England. Off I flew to be surrounded by different pillars of support, yet these friends didn’t know it. Not really. But maybe that’s the best part of friendship, they were just happy to see me as friends would be. There is no running away from the weightiness and the importance of a day, no spell that can fix grief and no invisibility cloak to hid from loss, by I was happy to be in the company of great friends. On the Friday, I combated sadness by crafting a day I know my mother would love. It included Butterbeer, Harry Potter, views of London, crafty cheers, a great meal and friends I am happy to count as pillars in my life.


And, on my last day in beautiful London, I went for a 5 mile run in Regent’s Park, where 6 years ago I strapped on a pair of Lifestrong Nike Running shoes and started running.