On the run

26 days after Amy passed away I cleared my schedule, put on a black dress and prepared for the opportunity to grieve, but first I ran a 5k with my son.

Boys on the Run, I love this program. It’s about building self-awareness and positive living, raising healthy men. It's not a race, they said. I was his running buddy, my job was to run alongside and encourage him, accept his pace fully.

The first mile: He is fast, he is vivid, we are joyful oxes. Everyone is a champion at the beginning

because nothing hurts

The second mile: he is crabby and silly and anxious. We feel how we feel before we know how we feel but until we know how we feel it comes out funny

too hot too tired there are too many people

needs to walk needs to skip needs to walk

needs water needs to take off this shirt

On the third mile “woohoo" becomes "you got this”

and I worry I’m an asshole

because I worry my own son's an asshole


look at all the cheering people, look at the wrath of my son

how can a person be this surrounded by support and this stubborn

because I want to be a shelter but he only speaks tornado

because we are in a hurry

we are always in a hurry

and there is so much to carry.

So who is really having the breakdown when he is folded and crying on the side of the track

“I need a break,” he says

“I need a break” he echoes

Parenting is just the valley where all our flaws are returned to us

if you pause long enough

to listen

I sit down for the first time in weeks

My sunken sadness rising

"Okay," I agree 

My buried chest

lost at sea 

"Okay," I echo

We are two storms, luxuriously self-absorbed, watching everyone run past.

They say grief comes in stages, but honestly there is nothing organized about it

At some point you just drag yourself all over the place until you can’t

Running in circles I had told him, "we're almost there."

"Stop saying that," he had said.

Two more laps: we walk.

The last curve: we sprint, end strong they say.

When he crosses the finish line the crowd cheers.

He is the last runner, we are the last runners

and I’m crying now, kneeling

arms around my sweaty son, his face a sky

"I’m so proud of you," I say

"I'm so proud of you," I echo

Ask the glacier who carves and collapses inside me,

some days we don't appear to be moving and still we arrive

How powerful is this,

when you give yourself

the space and the pace you need

when you need it

I've seen the inside of endurance; it's tenderness.

I kiss my child, alive and aching.

It is so easy to pass ourselves by

but we won’t.