Ten years ago, while training for the Surf City Marathon in Huntington Beach, my aunt died. The loss was a difficult one. She was a woman filled with light, joy and happiness. She loved to dance. I can still hear her laughter and see her smile.
A month later, a very close friend died. Again, unexpected and devastating to me. I couldn’t understand. I spent many long run mornings standing on the boardwalk, facing the ocean, crying my heart out.
A month later, my mom had a stroke. Luckily, she survived. Thankfully, after time in rehab, she recovered.
Those miles, both during the marathon and during the training, I spent thinking of these three ladies.
Thinking about life, and love, and loss.
About how quickly Time moves forward and about how nothing is permanent.
I cried a lot during that marathon, and every mile I dedicated to my aunt, my friend Karen, and my mom and her recovery.
Fast forward a decade. I’m training for my fourth marathon now. Time continues to move forward, and Loss continues to occur.
Two weeks ago, a good friend lost her mother. Again, another light in the world that filled the air with laughter and love. My heart broke for my friend; she and her mother were very close, and that is a Loss I can’t imagine.
Then, Las Vegas. Though I didn’t know anyone there, that, of course, didn’t take away from the gravity of the situation and the loss of so many people who should have had so much more Time.
And Tom Petty.
I loved his music, because his music took me away. Made me happy. Gave me hope. I swear he wrote American Girl for me.
After all it was a great big worlD, with lots of places to run to
After hearing he’d died I listened to that soundtrack on repeat for half an hour while sobbing uncontrollably.
It is Life, of course. Life guarantees Loss, because, as they say, none of us get out of it alive. But lately I’ve been considering the concept of Time as well, probably because, at my age, I’m on the other side. I used to feel I had a lot of Time; now, not so much.
In the ’90s I used to go to a small bar/coffee shop in Lantana, Florida and listen to a band called Friction Farm. I bought a guitar because I thought Christine, the lead singer, had an amazing life: free spirited, traveling, writing lyrics that counted. I could see me there. (I didn’t get far :0) )
They wrote a song called Time Runs Out.
I don’t know what we were thinking,
But time ran out while we were still figuring it out.
So these were the two things on my mind as I ran five miles today: Time and Loss. They seem to go hand and hand, though one we are guaranteed and one we aren’t.
Running and writing have been my way of dealing with Time and Loss for many years. I’ve had to stop on some runs just to gain composure. I’ve figured out the directions I needed or wanted to take on runs. I’ve written stories, blog posts and poems on runs. I’ve decided to gain things and leave behind things on runs.
I’ve said goodbye on runs.
Today I thought of that plus this: I can spend the rest of my days thinking about Time, about how fast it moves, about how much more of it I want. Or I can take Tom Petty’s lyrics to Wildflower to heart.
It’s time to move on, time to get going
What lies ahead, I have no way of knowing
But under my feet, baby, grass is growing
It’s time to move on, it’s time to get going
Really, what else is there to do?