My Saddest Day

Four Years…

Some things you never really get over. I think my life can be summed up into two phases: my life before January 26, 2006, and my life after January 26, 2006. I suppose it is an obvious fact of life that your parents will one day leave this world before you, but I was not prepared to lose her. I knew her time was limited, but I was not ready to let go.

I remember that after her first surgery, the doctors gave her 15 years. While not happy with the hard dose of mortality, I reasoned with myself that 15 years was a long time. I would be able to pretend like nothing was wrong for quite awhile before having to deal with Cancer. Less than two and a half years later, I was saying goodbye.

I am not using this as a lesson not to put things off. I was never going to be ready to say goodbye.

I just got off the phone with Dad who said that Mom wouldn’t want us all mourning still. I told him that I do not cry for her constantly, but this is just my day…my day to miss her. It’s my day to be depressed and feel alone. It’s my day to remember the bleakness of that day four years ago when I wanted to be relieved of this world too. This living out your life bit—not for the faint of heart, I tell you.

So, I will spend the rest of the night remembering lighter times and blowing my nose in an unladylike fashion. Then I will go to bed and sleep well, knowing that tomorrow will not be this day.

“Couples who ‘chiro’ together…

…stay together.”

At least, that’s according to Nick as we walked out of my chiropractor’s office yesterday afternoon. After I found relief last August from regular visits, he broke down and asked me to schedule him an appointment a few days ago after his back went out. Grudgingly, when he was asked to schedule a follow up a few days later, I decided that it was about time that I got into the swing of going again, too.

Now, Nick and I are definitely comfortable around each other, but I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself as we looked at each other’s X-Rays. I had “Dr. Dave” adjust me first, and he always marvels at how much my back cracks when I just roll into the right position (before he even tries to adjust me). In contrast, Nick thinks he maybe pulled a muscle after his first adjustment.

Dr. Dave was talking to us (Nick, mostly, since my dad has been going to a chiropractor as long as I can remember, and I know how all this stuff works) about how the biggest hurdles for new patients is getting them to relax so they don’t tense up and fight the adjustment. Then he looked at me and said, “I’ve always gotten a lot of movement with you, though…from day one.” Hey, we all gotta be good at something. It turns out, I’m good at making my joints adjust without any manipulation.

After my run last night, just before hitting the shower, I leaned down with straight legs and placed my palms on the floor to help stretch out. Nick yelled from the couch, “How do you do that!? Why can’t I do that!?” I wanted to smack both him and Dr. Dave yesterday, seriously. My “hyper-mobility”, as I have been diagnosed, is the crux of most of my problems with chronic pain. Seriously, you don’t wanna be like me.

1,000 in 2010

I am not the type that sets goals as the new year begins. I remember when I started letting people know that I was first trying to lose weight, countless people wished me luck and named themselves faithful Monday dieters. I just think it’s silly to put off your ambitions until a set date.

I signed up with a program through my HMO wherein I can get credit for working out at least 30 minutes a day. I did not realize that this program existed—I knew of programs where you get credit every time you sign in at your gym, but I was not aware of the options for people with home gyms. The program starts on the first day of the month after you sign up. Upon January first’s arrival, I was poking around the Nike Plus site, looking for challenges to enter. I want to get my running feet back again.

I did what I consider a fantastic job with running in September and October last year. I will never be a fast runner, but I got to a point where any run less than six miles felt like I was slacking off. One Saturday at the beginning of October, I hopped on the treadmill and up and ran 10 miles. 10 miles, after just one month of training! With medical procedures in November and December, recovery time has stolen whatever stamina and strength I had built in those two months. I just keep telling myself that this is the love part of the love/hate relationship I have with my legs. In relatively little time, my strength will return.

I came across a challenge to run 1,000 miles in 2010. Now, I’ve always hated (as in, “with a passion”) long-term assignments. However, the Nike Plus Challenges are a weird, binding contract with me. If I sign up, I have to perform. I knew that this would be a way for me to continue running throughout the year (instead of a random 5K here and there), as I will have to average just over 19 miles a week to meet my goal.

2009 was a year of fairly constant procedures. I was pretty open to whatever the doctors wanted to try, but this year I need to step back and just let my body fully heal. I don’t know that many people can understand how liberating this decision feels. Last year, knowing all of the recovery that would be ahead of me, I could not have set such a lofty goal as to run 1,000 over the next 12 months.

Now, running inside for long distances is a drag—I should know, I ran 10 miles in a dingy basement! Plus, being that I was less than a month out from my last procedure and had been inactive for about six weeks, I told myself that the 19ish miles a week goal was an average. During September and October, I had weeks closer to 30 miles, so when the weather was nicer I could make up for these early weeks in a Wisconsin winter. Unfortunately, I am a bit driven when I have a number to fixate upon.

So much so, that I did something on Friday and Saturday that I thought I would never do, considering those who did insane enough to be locked up. I ran outside in 14°F weather, a day after it snowed. The sidewalks were a mess, and it was really a mix of running outside and running on a treadmill because every step I took would slip back as I tried to propel forward. Oh, and it was frickin’ cold…but running outdoors again felt so good. During the first week of 2010, I made it 19.38 miles. Yay! Only 51 more to go.

So, I thought I would post my goal here for extra accountability. I can only imagine how thrilled I will feel this time next year when I accomplish this feat. 1,000 in 2010, baby!

2010

We were on the road, coming home from a friend’s house where we spent the night, when the sun rose this morning. The still morning was suddenly washed in amber streams, and I couldn’t help but feel that 2010 was starting on a beautiful note.

My parents always made December 31st feel special. The traditions were simple when I think about them today, but me and my brother looked forward to that day every year. A bottle of sparkling grape juice, beef tenderloin, and poor man’s lobster were always on the menu. We rented movies to play until midnight, and spread blankets on the floor in front of the television so that we could be on a picnic while enjoying our movie snacks.

I remember the close of 1999 so clearly with all the hype about the Y2K bug and imminent Armageddon. I was a senior in high school, and I remember finding all of the talk absurd. I was not then, and really am not now, a Prince fan (or, the artist formerly known as Prince, as he was known in 1999), so you can imagine how irritating the constant replay of that one song was for me. What a ride the last ten years have been.

As 2002 approached, I made the decision to change my lifestyle. A serious chest pain scared my then 20-year-old self into reevaluating the eating and exercise habits that had learned throughout childhood. My mother had begun successfully losing weight the year before, and I suppose she gave me the “this is possible” drive to succeed.

At the end of 2004, I was visiting my parents from North Carolina. My brother had other plans that year, but for nostalgia’s sake, Mom, Dad, and I dined on sparkling grape juice, beef tenderloin, and poor man’s lobster. We watched sappy romance movies all night. I didn’t know it then, but it would be the last New Year’s Eve that I would spend with my mother.

The next year brought a lot of crappy surprises, and I move that it just be stricken from the record. I was getting a cold and my mother had a compromised immune system at the end of December, 2005. My aunts were celebrating the night elsewhere. Mom did not feel like going out, and Dad was at a neighbor’s party. She and I spoke over the phone, each in our own empty homes. We were both ready to close the awful year, but it was such a lonely night. She said to me, and I’ll never forget, “2006 will be much better for both of us.”

In a way she was right. In January, she stopped suffering from that awful disease, and Heaven is her reward. I met Nick and started going about the business of living again, even though me and my aunts were plagued with weird illnesses all that year (and the time since). I guess it was a better year than the last, but Debbie still announced that she planned on drinking an entire bottle of Asti on New Year’s Eve to send 2006 packing with a resounding “Goodbye and good riddance!”

The past few years have been busy with school and doctors, and 2009 slipped through my fingers. I couldn’t help but make the comparison between last night and that night ten years ago. Sipping champagne with Nick and friends, confident in my power to take control of my life…the 18 year old had her parents and her traditions, but she really hadn’t figured out herself yet. (It’s just too bad that you can’t have it all.)

I think 2010 holds a lot of promises. With the end of school less than a year away, I feel such excitement that at this time next year, I might have free time! I am grateful to still have a job and a roof over my head (which is no small feat in today’s world), and I am thankful for the relationships I have with my family. I don’t know if I have ever told them, but I couldn’t have made it this far without my aunts in my corner. I had to work to build a better relationship with my father at first, but I now cherish our closeness.

And there’s Nick. Our first date was New Year’s Day, 2006. Four years later, I still wonder how I was able to find (and keep!) such a kind and loving person. He possesses a rare decency, and I am lucky to have him.

2010 can’t help but go right.