off the path…but relevant to my life

IMG_7596( I found this today and thought how relevant it is to my life. Michael will have been gone for 11 years next month. I wrote this 8 years ago. I hope he looks down with a smile when he sees the paths I have chosen. I think a lot of my life was influenced by the way he lived…and the way he died.In his memory I would like to share this with you…)
I just started running again. For the past three years since my husband passed away it’s just been too hard. But now, on the three year anniversary of his passing, I am ready to run. I am ready to live again.
Michael was an ultra-distance runner. He ran for many reasons. Running was his religion. He ran to escape the inner demons. He ran for camaraderie. He ran for life. Towards the end, he couldn’t run any longer, but, he realized that all the miles, all the effort had led him to this place to run the toughest race of his life, the race to beat the monster that was consuming his body.
Running had taught him to take one step at a time. It taught him that winning wasn’t about the medals or the belt buckles. It was about getting out there and just doing it. It was about inner strength, about faith, about wanting something so bad, that you would do whatever it takes to get there.
Michael started running at the age of 18. He ran around the block once, and threw up. He continued. He ran the Western States 100 miler five times. He ran the Pepsi 72 miler around Lake Tahoe seven times. His marathons numbered over 50 and his ultras over 30. He ran, and then he ran some more…until he couldn’t run any longer.
One of the demons that he faced was the demon of addiction. We as runners have addictive personalities. One of his demons was alcoholism. He figured if he could run 100 miles at a time he could drink whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted. As a matter of fact his long time running partner and himself used to run hard every Monday then sit around drinking beer and peach brandy for the rest of the day. Every race was followed by the same. It caught up to him big time. His running began to suffer from it. Injuries started popping up. He used to love run together. All of a sudden he wanted to hurry up and run so we would be done with it. Our runs together were becoming scarce. I was scared. But then, he quit drinking. With the help of AA and amazing people in recovery he never took another sip again.
We started running again. Running the trails with the love of your life is the best. Instead of looking at our watches we were becoming one with our surroundings, with the natural world. It was where we felt the most joy.
We got married on Mt. Hood in Oregon. I remember clearly the morning we were to be married. He had gotten up early to run the mountain with as he liked to call it,”reckless abandon.” He ran so beautifully, and with such power and strength. We ran every trail we could find in the coming years between the mountains and the sea. We experienced so much of natures splendor together.
When he was diagnosed with a very rare form of Pancreatic cancer he looked at me and said,”but, Im not ready to go.” So, he fought. The way he knew. One step at a time. Running had taught him this, recovery had taught him this. One step at a time for two years. But, then he couldn’t fight any longer. Our runs were replaced by very slow beach cruiser rides along West Cliff drive in Santa Cruz. I always rode in front of him because he wanted to know I was always there. I would stop and look back at him,he would always be smiling. I would ask him, how can you smile? His response,” how could I not, I have done everything in my life I wanted to do, life has been so good.”
After he left this life I was looking at the heavens and the stars wishing for a sign from him. After quite awhile I arose and looked out to the patio. His favorite running shoes were sitting there, alone. I don’t know how they got had been at least a year. But, I am sure he had something to do with it. It filled me with a renewed sense of hope.
Today as I run the hills, the beach in the sun and rain, I feel him with me. But now, it’s him supporting me, bringing me back from the long journey of grief. I feel his hand gently pressing me forward. I hear his words quietly reminding me of what running, of what nature can do for my soul. It helps us get through this life and into the next. It prepares us for the worst and lets us celebrate the best.
I love to run. I love the memories of runs past. Remember as you run the trails of your life, to think of those who have passed, and recognize the beauty of the moment and be truly grateful for this moment in time, because it passes so quickly, sometimes before we are ready.

(Thankyou for taking the time to read this. Without Michael in my life I wouldn’t be here, now. I am in a place of total and complete peace with my life and my joy for life carries me forward.”)
I walk on with love…

9 thoughts on “off the path…but relevant to my life

  1. Mary Shartle

    Thank you for sharing this, Laura. I see and feel Michael in all you do. His hand (and heart) does indeed press you gently forward. He is dearly missed by all of us who knew him. I do know that the “Monday running buddy” also looks for his guidance, wisdom and friendship on a regular basis. Blessings dear one as you move towards your next adventure. Sending love.

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