Tag Archives: infertility

endurance

I ran a half marathon yesterday.

I wasn’t always able to run. A large, physically awkward kid, I who would rather read a book than do much of anything else, and that included being active. I was consistently the slowest kid when we ran races at school and perpetually picked last when we formed teams in gym class. My mother kept encouraging me, and I learned the joy of moving my body in the ice skating classes she made me take.  Soon, I wasn’t quite so slow and awkward in gym class, but I still was no runner.

I started running in college to prove to myself that I could do it. It seemed difficult and unnatural during my first slogs through the streets, but over time I learned the joy of a breeze on my shoulders, the rhythmic pounding of my feet with matching breath.  I started running more and more and with my dad, and he spread the marathon bug to me.  In two years I ran 5 marathons, two half-marathons.  I was never fast, I was never even not-slow, but I could endure, and that’s really all that mattered, all that matters.

Dad went on to complete over 20 marathons, including qualifying for and running Boston, but I had to step away from marathons in 2007, after a disastrous race in Honolulu (painful on every level, it started with shivering in the rain while waiting for the race to start and ended with my then-husband telling me to go fuck myself after I hobbled, with blistered feet, across the line). My personal life was unraveling, and I became depleted on every level.  I couldn’t run 45 miles a week anymore. Some days it was all I could do to get out of bed.

But I kept running, albeit for shorter distances, through the divorce, through grad-school stresses,  through my mom’s illness and untimely death, and now, through the frustration of infertility.  What was once difficult and unnatural has now become part of me. Before I started my marathon of loss, I’m glad I had running to teach me that I’m stronger than I think.

the course was very challenging!
image retrieved from http://runkeith.blogspot.com/2012/03/half-marathon-and-mountain.html

Even now, as the load of grief over losing my mother is lightening a bit, I’m finding it difficult to fit in time for my long runs.  I was under trained for the half-marathon and my muscles are protesting terribly today.  I almost skipped the race entirely due to the undertraining, being out late at the opera the night before, etc.  But  I figured I could likely finish the race without an injury, so I went for it. Because I have the gift of health, and I’ll lose that too someday.  But before that happens, I’m going to use it.

all that I have

What should have been, would have been rolls around in my head like a marble in a tin can.

dink. dink. dink.

She should have lived longer.  She would have taken care of Grandma, and Grandma would have spent her last days surrounded by a love as encompassing as the sun.  She would have been so happy.  

It should not take an act of God for a healthy woman to get pregnant.  She would have rubbed my back during labor. She would have cooed into my baby’s ear. She would have been so happy.

She should have had a sixtieth birthday, a seventieth, an eightieth.  A retirement party. She should have traveled with John to Europe, Asia, British Columbia. Bisbee. They would have sent me postcards from beyond, taken couple photos kissing at a vista wearing matching cargo shorts. She would have been so happy.

dink. dink. dink.

There is no would haves or should haves.  There is only the now, and the now echoes with her absence.  Grandma has dementia, and will need to be placed in a care facility soon.  My stepfather is lonely and distraught. I have no baby. Our hands are empty and searching.

I become sad.  I become angry. I long for a future that can never be; I rage at a world that brings beautiful things into existence only to tear them apart.

Moments of reprieve come in glimmers, where the tin can rattle stops for a second, a minute or an hour.  I walk. I run. I feel the earth so sure beneath me, as though pressing upward to meet my feet. I feel the air slip between my fingertips, travel down my throat and out my nose.  I lay in bed and feel my blood warm the tips of my toes, pushed forward with every squeeze of my relentless heart.  My fingers meet my harp strings and I feel comfort in a meaning that exists beyond words.

I don’t have what I want, what I thought I would get. But my grief opens me to the gifts of the present:

The breath, the heartbeat, the shuddering of trees in a rainstorm, the beat of a wing against a yellow sky.

The clouds build up.  The sun lights them in a show of fiery splendor.  Then darkness comes, and they disappear as silently as they were created.