This week I was able to relax and enjoy April Vacation. I had a wonderful time with my sister in law in Ogunquit, Maine and we celebrated the lives and memories of Kristin, Mom and Dad. I knew I was going to be clear headed enough to post this week. Then on Monday, the Boston Marathon was ruined and scarred by two bombs that went off at the finish line. I was rocked to my core as the only reason I didn’t go was the high maintenance it felt like to get into the city. Sometimes I do it and sometimes I don’t. I was rocked to my core because family and friends were there and I had long moments of fear waiting for people to check in. I had moments of fear because it is one more tragedy that leaves us feeling we are not safe anywhere, but I still wanted to write…and yet…well, I often wonder why anyone would read my blog. It seems to get people to read your stuff, you should be an expert in something. What the hell am I an expert in? And how did it connect to what happened in Boston? (because something or someone told me it did.)
Well, I held off on the writing. And yesterday I went for my morning workout. I was feeling good. I was feeling relaxed. I put my ipod to the usual playlist titled Kick ass 10k (oh really, do you have more CLEVER titles on your playlist?) and I NEVER shuffle this playlist as it goes in the exact order for a fun and energetic workout. Cinderella Man by Eminem came on and I put the ipod down to begin. But something happened about 30 seconds into the song. The music stopped. A new song started. The damn song wasn’t even on the playlist and I didn’t recognize it right away so I grabbed my ipod and turned the screen toward me. All I saw was the album cover of STYX and I realized I was listening to Come Sail Away and I immediately thought, “Okay Kristin, I see you have something to say.”
Side bar: The other day while driving home I heard a newer song (at least to me) about carrying on and I cried feeling Kristin was sending me a message to carry on.
Listen to this part of the song, “And I’ll try, oh Lord I’ll try to carry on!”
And I realized, that is my strength. I know how to carry on in the wake of death. I recognize that death happens to everyone because it is a cycle. Although I am rocked to the core as is everyone else when death occurs, I do not see it as some tragedy that was done to me. I see it as what occurs in life. I didn’t sit in the wake of the marathon bombings and ask “why me?” Because first of all, although I love Boston and it is very much my home…it wasn’t me. Everyone I know and love is safe and sound. I am terribly upset it happened at all and that people were so hurt, but their grief is not mine to own. Their grief belongs to them and when someone takes everyone’s grief as their own, they will not be able to carry on. Your shoulders will just be too heavy.
Sometimes there can be guilt associated by carrying on. I get that. But I think like this…the day after the marathon I had two choices, one was to sit glued to my tv and crying over the sadness of it all. (I am not judging. For some that is a very real way to get through grief/shock) The other was to continue with my vacation the way it was planned. Both choices would not do a single thing to help the families who are grieving (along the way I will look for some appropriate way to help, currently I have agreed to run 26.2 within 30 days in honor of the victims.) but one would honor the fact that life goes on and would let me continue to make my corner of the world a little brighter.
We all grieve differently. There is no time limit on grief. Grief is a part of life and NOBODY gets to avoid it. We just meet grief at different times. But know this…and I believe this is coming from someone who does have some expertise in grief…it is okay to carry on while grief is in your company. There should be no guilt in that. Because nobody is promised the next minute. That is what we should always take away from tragedy like what occured in Boston.
Finally, I will leave you with this. Before my sister was diagnosed and died from Pancreatic Cancer I had a few very real scares with Breast Cancer. I would come home from a test where I would be cleared for a few weeks and I would tell Eric that we were celebrating. When he would ask what we were celebrating I would say, “That I am cancer free.” We wondered if that was being crass. I think about it often lately. I think Kristin would be proud of me and would say that yes we should celebrate being cancer free. Everyday we should find something to celebrate about our lives. Today I am cancer free and the sun is shining. Today is a good day to keep on keeping on. Be Strong!