Recently, I met my friend for a crisp, cool, wintry 5 am run. After she left, I decided to add on a few more miles, weaving back and forth among the cul-de-sacs in my neighborhood. Each time I turned to face east, I was struck with the beauty of the night sky.
There was a beautiful bright crescent moon with a trail of stars and one star in particular that was so bright and large that it may have actually been a planet. I made a mental to note to google if any planets were visible this time of year. For once I didn’t have a billion thoughts going through my head; I just ran and enjoyed the beauty and the solitude. I was at peace.
As I walked into work later that morning, that feeling of peace was quickly stolen away by the news that my co-worker and friend had passed away the night before. I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe that bright star that caught my eye was him.
For weeks now, I’ve felt as if I’ve had nothing to say. How much can you talk about something as trivial as running when people you love are losing people that they love? Jason’s passing was yet another tragedy in a long line of terrible things that seem to be happening to a lot of truly good people I know lately. How silly is it for me to worry because my shin has been hurting or that I may not be in great shape to run my next marathon? Who cares if I ever break 3:30 in a marathon? I mentioned this to my fellow Salties and they understood where I was coming from. Then, Cinnamon reminded me:
Running is about connecting to my life and what is bigger than me. Things are tough in the world and running gives me the place and perspective I need to handle it.
I know the stars I saw probably aren’t the people that recently passed from this world, like Jason or my friend’s infant son or my other friend’s unborn daughter, but I know that they reminded me of them, and maybe that’s enough. I wouldn’t have been up at 5:00 in the morning to feel the calm and peace that those stars brought if it hadn’t been for running. If it hadn’t been for running, I also wouldn’t have been able to chat with my friend who needed to talk through some heavy stuff. If it weren’t for running, I couldn’t pound out angry miles when I think of the injustice of good people suffering and dying and how angry cancer makes me.
I can’t stop running when life makes me sad. Movement helps heal and the physical act of putting one foot in front of the other teaches you to keep moving forward. No matter what life throws at you, keep moving forward. Writing this reminds me of a Rodney Atkins song:
If you’re goin’ through hell keep on going
Don’t slow down if you’re scared don’t show it
You might get out before the devil even knows you’re there
No matter what happens in life that may seem out of control, I take comfort in the fact that a mile never changes, it’s always 5,280 feet. So I will continue to pound out those miles. I will do so to remember those we’ve lost and those who are fighting the good fight. I will go out for those early morning runs so I can witness the splendor and beauty of the night sky and of the morning sunrise. I will cover miles with friends to remind me that life is still good. I will run to see the stars.
How does running help you cope with loss?