Sometimes. . .
. . . really bad things happen in your life and you have to pull through.
On Wednesday, August 12th I woke up to 4 missed calls. I kept my cell phone downstairs at night; I sleep like the dead (zero pun intended) and rely on the Jag to hear the phone ring which he usually does. Well, he had earplugs in that night and didn’t hear it either.
I immediately thought the early am coach overslept and quickly scanned the caller id. Uh oh, 4 missed calls from my parents in the middle of the night. Not good. Fearing this was “the call” I quickly dialed the number. My dad answered, “I’d rather tell you in person”. Heart pounding I sprinted up the stairs, threw on whatever clothing I could grab and sped over there.
When I walked in the door, he said “your mother’s gone”. Talk about a jolt to every system in my body. And on no coffee. Wow. Long story short, massive heart attack in the middle of the night and gone before 911 could even arrive. That will be a day I will never forget. I stayed with my father and everytime I looked at the clock it seemed to have slowed for that was the longest day of my life.
In any negative event I attempt to find at least a modicum of positivity. My mother had wished for a quick passing, no hospital stay or lengthy prolonged illness and she wanted to not have to rely on anyone to take care of her. While none of us get to choose, her wish was fulfilled and she passed 1 month and 3 days before her 88th birthday. I had a wonderful mother and friend for 55 years who was always, always there for me. And I can tell you, I would not have wanted to raise myself.
I am so very very blessed to have an incredible support group–my husband of 30 years, my family, his family, a few close friends and an amazing community of people (coaches, friends and members) from our box. They were all there for me. Calls, messages, hugs, floral arrangements, food and more overall support than is imaginable.
I have lost those that I love before — grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends and felines but nothing yet that hit as hard as losing a parent. How do I cope? My well loved and well meaning sister in law suggested grief counseling and anti depressants. Hmmm, I don’t think so. I have enough to deal with without adding vicious side effects. Yet I wasn’t sure what was the best way.
Being an only child I am the only one to help my father take care of things. They had 59 wonderful years together, very little outside social circle besides each other and the family and he is now lonely. Arrangements needed to be made along with the other things you never think of or at least I didn’t. In other words, I have to be there for him, help him in any way I can and be the strong one.
Thursday I decided I would go to work even though my coach looked at me and said, “what are you doing here, I got this”. I know she did and decided for a few days I would work in the morning and take care of the other tasks in the afternoon and evening. I could not sit idle or through another long day like the one before. Dwelling is not how I will handle this.
Light bulb moment: I needed a workout. Realizing I was under atypical stress I expected nothing, I just needed to move the dirt. I was all by myself in the quiet and hot box at about 10 am that Thursday morning. I had put on my wonder woman shirt and sneakers cause I needed to. That alone helped me call forth the right mentality. I took my time with a nice long warm up and hit the weights. It was RDL’s, bent over rows and some trunk work.
I don’t think I will ever forget that workout. There was a soul cleansing or releasing of something very deep and powerful. Or maybe a better way to describe was that an answer came from somewhere telling me “yes, you can do this, you will get through it, have faith”. My focus was more intense than average and many thoughts, an understanding and coming to terms with things ran through my head. Never my intention but I also pr’d.
After the workout I felt like a different person. I had the strength to go pick up my father and make the funeral arrangements for my mother. At least for that afternoon I was in control and strong. Friday morning I did the same routine; a little work, workout and then take care of things. I even worked out on Saturday, that hour or hour and a half spent in the gym enabled me to better deal with everything.
It gave me courage, it gave me strength and it gave me a calmness, decisiveness and a sense of control I do not believe would have been possible to summon up without it. The memorial was that following Friday so we had a long week of building up and planning for the ‘closure’ along with family coming in. I worked out 5 days in a row and I can tell you, after the fact that is what pulled me through. Without a doubt.
Time is needed now and I am returning to somewhat of a normal routine and establishing a new routine with my father for life is different now and will never be quite the same. I focus on the memories and the good in the many years we had together.
You know, we’re all different and just like there are many good training programs there are many ways to deal with the loss of a loved one. We had a beautiful memorial service for my mother in the Catholic church because that is where she worshiped and what she wanted. We we met to make arrangements the woman helping asked and “where do you worship?” She caught me by surprise and I looked at her and without conscious thought said — the gym, fitness is my faith. She looked at me like she didn’t quite comprehend.
And while that may not work for everyone it does for me; I’ve had many ‘come to Jesus’ moments on a field, at a track and in a gym. That’s where I go to find the strength and whatever higher power one chooses to esteem to I would think they could be found anywhere — even in a hot chalky box.
It helps me to pen things so thank you for listening my friends.