My commitment to my reader has always been the same as the one I make to myself. I will always tell the truth, even if it’s uncomfortable, heartbreaking or scary. The truth is today I am hurting in every way – physically from racing, mentally and emotionally from bearing the loss of my Gramma. She was 92. She passed away this past Friday, the day before the biggest race of my Spartan Race career.
She wanted for her children and grandchildren to do what made them happy. The fact is, there is nothing tragic about dying at 92. In fact, it’s freakin’ epic! She lived through so much. She touched many lives, bore and raised an incredible family. She loved her family, their animals, the holidays, gardening, yellow roses, pussy willows, vase heads (don’t ask, just go with me on this!), antiques and golf, among other things.
Yes, I’m reaching because honestly, I’ve been “preparing” myself for this for, oh, about 5 years. A little piece of advice: Don’t waste time ‘preparing’ for the death of someone close to you because when you get that jolt, when you get that call or that text that tears your world out from underneath you, there is no preparation that allows you to breathe easier or makes it hurt less. Trust me. I’m living through it.
I was having dinner when I got the text. “Gram just died peacefully.”
Part of me just stared in disbelief. Like I said, there is no ‘preparation’ for this. I got to my car before I broke down and just sobbed til I couldn’t breathe. I copied and pasted the message “My Gramma just died” to about 15 people. I let myself feel every tiny bit of everything there was to feel. I know it’ll come in waves. that that’s how every emotion works. My best advice that you didn’t ask for: feel what there is to feel. All of it. And if you hit a plateau where you’re feeling nothing, or there is no running, but walking, that is OK, too. Just like racing. You’re not always running. Sometimes you’re hiking, skipping, crawling, rolling, walking, or landing on your back side and sliding.
Speaking of living epically. I run Spartan Races. You can volunteer to earn your free race entries. I had volunteered on Friday, the 18th to earn my free race for Saturday at Killington. The Beast. 13+ miles and 30 + obstacles. About 4900 feet of elevation gain.
You can train for a Spartan Race, practicing carries, running on a 15% incline treadmill (which, as an aside, is actually funny after having raced Killington with its thousands of feet of elevation gain, you’re welcome! – Thanks, Norm, for the stunning views and the workout!), practicing burpees, spear throwing, rope climbing, the whole bit. But there is no preparation for being notified that your beloved Gramma has passed away, even if she’s 92 and you ‘expect it’. It still hurts like hell, it’s still “wait – what?!” There are still tears to beat the band. Tears in the airport, tears on the race course, tears in the moments of reality where you realize you’re going to Gramma’s, only not. It’s different this time. My family has to learn to do something none of us knows how to do: live without mom, Gramma, Great Gramma.
Someone asked me why I was racing – because someday when I die, I want to have lived an epic life! Running Spartan Races stretches me in every possible way. I, as most racers do, leave it all on the course. Blood, sweat, tears, mental gunk, emotional junk and every bit of physical strength get left on the mountain. That’s the point. I can’t say losing my Gramma is “just another obstacle” because it’s much bigger than that but my Gramma wanted us to be happy and I’m happy on the mountain, racing so I raced for Gramma! And finished!