My mother would have been 66 tomorrow.
October has been a difficult month for me for as long as I can remember, as every year I ached from the pains of not having the relationship I'd wanted with her. The pain this year is different... I'm missing her - just as I had for so many years - but now there's the added ache of finality. Finality on earth, anyway.
In the last couple of weeks, I've struggled to put a name with the dull ache constantly hovering right below the surface. Exhaustion? Failure? Loneliness? Frustration? Life is good; however, overwhelmingly busy right now... There's that nagging feeling that I'm doing a lot of things, but nothing particularly well. I had chalked my sad nameless feelings up to a challenging season of life...and stuffed away the pain of missing Mom.
Last weekend, I was part of a marathon relay team. I'd picked my leg sight unseen. I had no idea what neighborhood I'd be in or what landmarks I'd run past. Had I known that the first 3.5 miles would be uphill, I probably wouldn't have picked it. I traveled by bus out to my transition station in the dark and waited for 3 1/2 hours before my turn to run. I was at my stop for nearly an hour before the sun started to come up. Only then did I realize where I was sitting.
Directly west of a park I know from my childhood.
My mom was the team caption of her company's March of Dimes team walk when I was young, and this particular park was at the finish. We had many-a-picnic in this park after the walk when I was a kid.
I took a walk down the street and paused to take in the beautiful sunrise over the creek. My mom would have loved this. And I loved remembering all the times we'd been here together years ago.
I'm not sure exactly where my mom lived when she was a girl, but I always imagined it was near here.
And I know her high school was just up the street ... I ran past it!
I'd never been in this part of town on foot (this race took me in the opposite direction as Mom's March of Dimes walks), and here I was...seeing it in all of it's beautiful fall glory...one footstep at a time for 6.77 miles. It could not have been a prettier day. (Note: Except for the sunrise over the creek, these pictures were taken 8 days after the race. Imagine gorgeous red and orange leaves on the bare trees.)
When I turned off to head north, I found myself winding through Hyde Park. I ran within a block of the chapel where Bryan and I married.
And the finish line is just blocks from where we held our wedding reception. What wonderful memories.
And my mom's office is across the street from there.
Saturday's race could not have been more perfectly timed. It was an impulse race for me ... but God so clearly had a plan for it!
When my mom passed away in March, I remember thinking that God knew I was going to need running this year. Evidently He knew I was going to need running right now specifically.
I rarely run alone anymore. I have trained almost exclusively with friends since June! In fact, I'm so used to running with friends, that I didn't know how I was going to run alone - with only my iPod - for such a distance.
But, when the time came, I turned to the only playlist I've ever run to, and sang worship songs the entire way. I ran faster than I've ever run that distance - faster than I've ever even run a 5k! I felt my mother close every step of the way... And I was privileged to run alongside marathoners in their final stretch of a grueling race. Many limping, bleeding, clearly in pain but determined to overcome their obstacles.
And I did it all with dear friends. Friends who fought the good fight and finished the race.
Every runner faced their own challenges that day - or in the days leading up to the race - but every one of us forged ahead.
It was, without question, a healing, spiritual kind of day. I felt close to my mom, held tight by my loving heavenly father, and reminded again of all the greatness in my life. I really needed that.
"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18
God is so good, ever-present and generous.