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
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.