It came at me like a cool breeze. The fresh air reaching my lungs waking me up from this long slumber. Goal. Running goals. They have come and gone with no substance for too long. But this is different and I recognize you from before. Before when I was driven.
I don't yet fully recognize the how and the why. I only know that I was moved deeply and forever changed. Things flow into another, turning and moulding. A death here, a broken bone there, relationships and responsibilities mounting. Chance meetings guiding the way back to music long forgotten. Movement through dance needing to express all that I did not have the words for. You have been gentle. Passionate. Patient and kind. I twirl and stumble. Your arms steady me back to the rhythm. New friendships. Strength returning so that I can feel this breeze, really feel it.
The goal is different but just as deep as those others from long ago. I need to train hard so as not to cheat myself. I will know when I have done all that I can do and then I will go out there and experience it head on. Right now it is very important that I do not cheat myself. Train hard and mean it. I will not let this slip through my fingers. I am holding on tight. There is life to be found here. The race is the path that leads to it.. I will not cheat on myself anymore. Funny how running mirrors life.
Stage 1 of training has already begun. 6 more months to go.
It seems I'm making a habit of visiting your final place of rest once each of the three seasons. Oh, what a strange thing it is to visit this place. You are not there. Only your bones are there but that is the closest I will get to being with you. I understand now why people go to visit these empty places....I think.
I arrive in the morning with a cup of coffee and stand at your cold stone. Sometimes I stay a few minutes, sometimes a half hour. At some point during each visit I end up texting a friend to say I am having coffee with dead Jerry and chuckle. This is only year one and I wonder if I will always do this. or will the need to come here wear off eventually?
I hate the sterility of this graveyard. Maybe all graveyards. I never stepped foot in one except for actual burials at various funerals. One of the first thoughts I have when visiting you is that you are surrounded by old guys, not your peers. Again, I know I am just visiting a pile of buried bones yet the thought comes anyway. You are immediately surrounded by Jack, James, Helen and Rita. The youngest was born in 1924, the oldest 1921. Beyond them are Albert, Alexander and some other old guys. Oh, but then there is poor Deanne who was born in 1981. Her parents bought two stones for her, oh their grief I can only imagine. I don't want to imagine.
The aloe vera plant I so carefully placed beside your stone is gone. It is not allowed, you know. Here you must abide by the rules. You can place a wreath or put flowers in a vase provided by this institution that is attached permanently to the stone. You don't have one of those. I would not deposit flowers in this manner anyway...it is not you. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to plant flowers around the stone that speaks to the person you were. Aloe vera. For healing. I will not get in trouble for dropping tobacco all around your stone so I do. I am sure you would love a cigarette if only you could have one. Wherever you are. Tobacco is also an offering. I give it for both reasons so this gesture speaks to both of us.
I am getting used to this place a little bit more. This last visit I sat on the hard concrete bench that is provided and I sent you love via a feeble attempt at meditating. No matter, I sent love and it is the thought that counts. I choose to believe you can feel love even in the afterlife. I get comfort from Eben Alexander's words from his book Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife. Love is more than we can ever perceive in this life. It is so much bigger. I choose to believe that.
On a final note, I have never seen anyone else in this graveyard. Maybe because it is too damn far. Maybe because nobody thinks to visit dead people in the morning. To me it is ideal. The start of a new day. Crisp air. A time to pay respect.
I have 'tucked you in' for the winter. See you in the Spring.
The race that shall remain nameless. I was only there because of friends. Thank Goodness for friends. I listened to their stories of this spectacular run when they raced it last year and was intrigued. When they asked if anyone was interested in joining them this year I jumped at the chance.
Out there in the mud and the hills and the distance I felt part of it. One hour into the race I saw the elderly skinny man with white hair slightly stooped over running gracefully up the rocks then down the rocks. Steady, always steady. Quiet.
I found out later his name is Dag Aabye.
So it is true after all. Sometimes you don't know why you are doing a race until it is over.
Turns out I run to catch a glimpse of spirit and grace.