Monday, October 1, 2012

The Streak

Way back before "Meatless Mondays" was a thing, my mom refused to eat meat on that particular day.

Now before you get all, oh isn't that progressive....just know that didn't mean we ate healthy; it just meant she didn't eat meat. And because she cooked for us, we didn't either. Growing up, Mondays meant fettuccine alfredo, pot cheese and noodles, pierogi, baked mac and cheese. pretty much any butter/dough/cheese combo you can think of. Come Tuesday, all bets were off. We'd come home to find a big bloody chunk of something defrosting in the sink. Quick, bring out the roast before dad passes out from his perceived starvation.

Mom didn't eat meat because this one time when my grandfather was really sick she made a deal with god and said, hey, god, if you get my dad through this, my offering to you is this... I'm paraphrasing. But I am fairly certain it went something like that.

And that time, Gig got better and mom kept her promise, and still does even though Gig has been gone for 30+ years. Except for when she forgets what day it is, which I think happens a lot after you retire.

At some point, dad became a more willing participant of the meatless Monday. I'm fairly certain it was when I got sick, but maybe that's just me being sentimental. In the beginning, mom would cook him a separate meal if the absence of meat was proving too traumatic. But after the turning point, he even helped keep her on task, "Now, now, mom, today's Monday. Don't forget...." (My dad was one of those men that called their wives "mom" which I think is freaky on a number of levels, but I digress).


You say you're going to do something and you do it. No matter how disjointed or kakamaymee or completely unrelated to anything it is. Word is bond. Even when you don't say it out loud. But especially when you say it out loud.


So, a couple of months ago I found myself wondering if I could run every single day. I saw it as a kind of solidarity with our surrogate. As in, if she can stick a nearly 2 inch piece of metal into her butt cheek for us every morning, I can certainly crawl out of bed and jog a bit, no? I wasn't doing that, so I might as well be doing something.

So I tried it, and before you know it, more than a week was under my belt. And then two, and then three, and at some point, I typed it out loud. And then the thought makes itself known....

Well, hell, I'm running, and we seem to have a baby on the way....

All is well, so I better not stop...

Yes. I know (cognitively) that there is no correlation here. Just like M (cognitively) knows that wearing or not wearing the appropriate MCFC jersey (watching the match live or not... wearing the knee socks or not.... seeing it at our home or his dad's..... with other people or get the picture) may or may not influence their win. I know that my running or not running is not going to affect the outcome of this pregnancy, but I've thought it out loud and well, there you go.

Better safe than sorry.


Today is day 78. I haven't missed a day. For a day to "count" I have to run at least one mile, at at least an 11-minute mile pace. I was easy on myself with the "rules" because I knew I was contemplating a half marathon somewhere in there and I wanted to give myself a little flex for recovery if I needed it. I didn't, but boy that mile minimum came in handy last week when I had to cut my run short due to a major. wardrobe. malfunction along a busy street (couldn't keep my pants up).

Yes, I ran right out of my pants.


I ran every day as I camped out at the hospice center last month. The first day, I was completely distracted, lost my way, ran through bee hives (no stings) and found myself a few miles beyond what I hoped to run, with no water, and no shade in the middle of the frigging day. I wondered why I was so fatigued, looked at my phone (which I had with me for any emergency) and saw it wasn't 89 degrees like I thought; it was 99.  JFC. Turns out, I was the emergency that day. I called my brother to come rescue me.

"The next time you go running, why don't you take the van with you. Heh. Heh," he said as he handed me a water and blasted the a/c.

Hardy fucking har.

The next day, there were a lot of people in and out of dad's room and we were all trying to give each other a little space, a little privacy. I took the opportunity to head out with my sneakers, much more certain of my route this time. Just to be safe, I told M and my brother where I was going. Showed them on the google map. If anything happens, come get me. I mean it. Start out in the opposite direction and just grab me off the road.  They promised.

Towards mile three I started to feel funny. It was getting to be dusk and headlights started coming on. My heart started to jump every time I saw a car turn my way. Every car looked like my altima. Every mini van looked like my mom's. This run was no longer therapeutic; it was just not over soon enough.

As I was rounding the last corner into the development where the hospice was tucked away, I checked my phone and saw, "mom wants to know when you'll be back." Shit. I called, and couldn't get any reception. I could hear my brother's girlfriend pick up the phone but not what she was trying to say to me. I got frustrated and yelled, "just wait for me! Just wait!"

As if she (or anyone) had anything to do with it.

And then I started to sprint. Like a crazy woman. Cutting through the yards and not-yet-developed lots. Praying there was no hidden rabbit hole waiting to wrench my ankle.

Wait for me. Wait for me. Wait. gasp. For. pant. Meeeeeee. Please.


And he did. He did. I tried to collect myself as I walked back into the hospice and to his room (because you are explicitly not supposed to freak the fuck out at the hospice. I think that's actually written somewhere) so I smiled. Told the reception guy I was already signed in and waited for him to chase after me. By the time I got back to dad, he was still there. Barely. Breathing heavily. Incredibly labored. We both were.

I will never forget that sound. My gasping. His gasping. Only his stopped.


I don't know how I would feel know if I missed my dad's last breath. Does that breath carry more weight than any of the others I have listened to? Does that moment define his dying more than the others (ok, technically, yes, it does) but you know what I'm asking, right?

I was certain I would make it back in time. But I was also willing to live with the consequences if I didn't. What I wasn't willing to do was forsake the streak. Not if I could help it. Because in that moment in time, it felt like the one thing that I DID have control over. Even now, it is the one thing I can choose to do, or not do. Something completely up to me, not other forces, not things beyond my comprehension or control. There is no mystery in lacing up shoes. Choosing to put one foot in front of the other. Go.

I run for me. I run for baby2b. I run filled with gratitude that I am physically able to run. I run consciously aware of my breath and do not take it for granted. I run to the trees and blow kisses and say my daughters' names out loud. I run because I do not pray. But this feels something close to it.

baby2b: 14 weeks and 1 day.
day 78 of the streak.


Heather said...

14 and 1
I love those numbers!

I love all of this. Especially the memories of your Dad.

tireegal68 said...

This is such a beautiful hope filled, teeth gritting post. Your writing is amazing. You may think its not prayer but it sounds like it to me ( also not a big prayer). I hope your streak continues!

circlesbecomeme said...

loved this post... keep the streak going... thanks for sharing. so glad you got to be there for his last breaths.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful post, and I know exactly what you mean.

As for last breaths; I'd like to think it's for those breathing them. I used to. I was so glad when my grandmother (mother figure) managed to "wait" for all of us. I thought it was best that we were all there for her.

Since then, I've also not been there for them. Now it's not so clear I think it may be just as much for us.

Lisa said...

This is an incredibly moving post. I wish I knew you in real life. Keep the streak going ... I think its doing you a world of good.

luna said...

this gave me a chill. on a 99 degree day.

beautiful writing. profound moments.

and omg, I can't believe you can do it every day.

Lori Lavender Luz said...

Love this. What a juxtaposition of both ends of life. What a way of putting it all together.

Jjiraffe said...

What a moving post. I am so glad that you were able to make it back to your dad in time.

I admire your streak! 78 days is incredible.

dana said...



Anonymous said...

really nice read- thanks for this. My dad died when I was 16, at home, under hospice care. I can't even remember now if I was there for his last breath, but I am grateful that I was able to sit with him near the end, and just talk to him (while he was in a coma.)

Anonymous said...

Oh my word, you've got me all worried about what if you get flu or something and can't run for a day. Promise me if that happens you won't stress. You need like a back up thing that you can also do in emergencies!

dspence said...

"You say you're going to do something and you do it." It's a great reminder, especially this time of year. Not for resolutions, exactly, but to set a goal and see it through. To have a reason for action. Something that moves you and puts word into action. Thank you for the reminder.

Peg said...

Lovely post, I'm really sorry for your loss and have great hope for your future.

JustHeather said...

I'm sorry for the loss of your dad, but it is sweet to know you made it back in time to be with him in his final moments.

Congrats on keeping up with your running (I see that your number have more than doubled now!)! Good luck with the nearing arrival of BBB.

Alicia said...

Here from CdlC.

Wow - what a great post. So much emotion packed into these words ... so sorry for your loss, so happy for your future. Lovely.

gailcanoe said...

I love how you tie everything together, the mundane (Meatless Mondays), the sad (your dad's death), the fantastic (your running streak) and the amazing fact that your baby is on its way.

Here from the Creme.

Turia said...

Here from the Creme.

This is a wonderful post. I found myself holding my breath as I read it, as if I could help will you back to his room in time.

Turia said...

Here from the Creme.

This is a wonderful post. I found myself holding my breath as I read it, as if I could help will you back to his room in time.

Em said...

This is one of the best Creme posts I've read. I loved everything about it...your vulnerability, your strength, all of it. Thanks for sharing this story. So sorry for the loss of your father. I'll be following your blog from now on.