April 2017 /// How beautiful is my Mommy? She makes everything fun.
In the spring of 2017, I had all these great intentions of running races, and I started working toward that. I even had this one beautiful day, this one beautiful race. My mom and I signed up for a 5K hosted by the Methodist church in Rainelle. We didn’t have any chance of setting records, and we didn’t care in the least. We took our sweet time, laughed and took selfies, waved at cars passing by. Right behind us was the ambulance—and the EMTs happy honked and hung out the windows cheering us on. We were the last ones to finish, but we didn’t mind because it was a beautiful day and we looked so cute in our running clothes, which we reminded ourselves several times.
The shirts were all given out by the time we crossed the line, so the race director said he’d order more and mail ours. Mom and I took a few more selfies, patted ourselves on the back for a race well done, and headed home. It was the beginning of the end of something that should’ve been really incredible.
Fast forward a couple weeks, to the darkest time in my life, when everything changed forever and I didn’t even get to say goodbye. I was at my parents, and kind people were constantly stopping by with food and paper products and hugs and tears. I answered a knock, and there was the sweet race director, holding our tshirts, saying he happened to live nearby and it was just easier to drop them off. I froze, barely able to string words together. It was like someone from another universe stumbled into this one, speaking a different language, one I could no longer understand. If you’ve experienced profound loss, maybe you understand that there’s your old life, and there’s your new life. There’s who you used to be and who you are forced to become. Standing there, in that moment, as the person I was forced to become, it felt surreal to be handed tshirts from a beautiful day in a life I no longer recognized as my own.
So fast forward five years. And by fast forward, I mean slow crawl, one step forward three steps back, barely putting one foot in front of the other. Life has been hard, and sometimes navigating grief has felt like a struggle to survive with absolutely no expectation of thriving. But today, five years later, I got a little glimpse of thriving when I crossed the finish line of another 5K. I know it was just 3.1 miles, and my time was far from the top of the score sheet, but every single stride was hard earned. Finishing this race felt a little like hope, like reclaiming my soul, like personal pride for forward motion despite a long tunnel of sadness.
I don’t know where you are in your race for healing. But don’t let anyone — especially those who haven’t had to run it — rush you along. Your pace is your own, and you will cross that finish line. Don’t get me wrong, I am not cured of my grief. I will miss Josh every moment of every day for the rest of my life. Even just now, typing his name took my breath away. I will never, ever, ever be who I once was, and in the absence of such an important person, I wouldn’t want to be. But I can choose who I will become, and for today, I choose to be someone who does the hard things, finishes what she starts, and gives hope a chance. Today wasn't just a 5K...it was a 5Year, and regardless of my snail's pace and all the amazing people who finished before me, I won simply because I kept going.
Maryanne Tuck Grimmett
March 2022 /// Go me.