Well, I feel like  a slacker.  I’ve only run twice since the San Francisco marathon three weeks ago.  I was going to try to do the Indianapolis Monumental Half this weekend, but life just got in the way.  Let’s review…

October 21st my Uncle Don passed away from complications with cancer.  He was a fighter and an ex-marine, but just couldn’t kick the last one that knocked him down.  Two days later, my husband came in the bedroom while I was getting ready for bed and told me that his Aunt Sue had just passed away, most likely from complications recovering from a lung biopsy.  (Yes, the results came back that she had the late stages of lung cancer.)  I actually hadn’t been close to either family member.  I’d only seen Sue twice since David and I were married nearly 10 years ago.  And Uncle Don I saw just about every year at the annual reunion for that side of the family.  Both were warm-hearted people and would do anything for someone in need.  I really felt that I needed to be there for the family members who were grieving.  It just happened to work out that Sue’s funeral was on the 29th and Don’s was on the 1st.  It seemed meant to be that I could make it to both.

Sue was the only sister my mother-in-law shared her childhood with.  She has since discovered her birth family, but that is a whole other story.  So, my husband and I packed up, plopped our 20 month old son in his carseat and drove out to Rapid City, SD.  We stopped to stay with my god-sister, Kristianna at her college apartment in Iowa City…about 1/3 of the way to Rapid.  And boy did that bring back college apartment living memories, most of them good.  After day 2 in the car, we had covered just over 1,100 miles and 17 hours of driving.  What a trooper our little man is!

I am so glad we went!  It was important for David to be there for his mother, and it was important for me to be there for David.  And it was a super bonus getting to know his cousin, Tonya, and her family.  Sue left a wonderful legacy of loving friends and generous family.  I was going to be upset if I didn’t get in at least one run in the Black Hills, so when I found a path during naptime one day I jumped at the chance and went for a run.  I’d never been so excited to start charging up a hill, and I’ve never smiled so big when I realized I wouldn’t make it and walked the last half.  I did manage to get P90X in every day but one, and that was due to technical difficulties not a lack of wanting to do it.  And thank goodness I had my shakes with me to keep me going.  I swear, beside the shakes, I consisted on trail mix during this week.

On our way back we made our long day of driving even longer by stopping to see some of the sights…Wall Drug, the Badlands, and the Corn Palace.  What great memories!  Will rode a dinosaur and hasn’t stopped talking about it since.

We again stayed with Kristianne, and headed out the next morning for Springfield, IL to say goodbye to my uncle.  We had missed the wake by two days, so our stop was short.  It was a beautiful and well done military service, complete with a gun salute.  Looking around at my cousins, aunts, and uncles all grieving for this man that they were so closely bonded to made me realize how much about them I don’t know.  I could empathize with them for their loss and I truly did feel their pain.  At the same time I was wondering, “do I REALLY know them?”.  I wished I could have stayed and listened to them share stories and relive memories.  There was another funeral service scheduled right after my uncle’s, though, and they needed the shelter.  Before we left, my cousin Melissa asked if I was on Facebook.  Of course!  I’m hoping that this is the beginning of getting to know my family better, and being able to catch up with them more than once a year.

I will say, having a toddler at a funeral makes you realize that even though life gets in the way, it must go on.  Even if I’d tried to explain to him that we had to sit and be quiet, that this is a somber occasion and everyone is sad, he wouldn’t have gotten it.  And he’s a pretty smart kid.  Instead he wanted to sing and talk and run around.  At Sue’s funeral they played songs during the ceremony, and he would clap and shout “Yay!” when the songs were over.  A little comic relief through all the tears.

Now we are back home, over 2,400 miles and countless hours in the car, and trying to get back on track.  I’ve worked out once in the three days we’ve been home.  All the driving is definitely catching up to me.  Our first day back Will was so not himself that we didn’t leave the house all day.  Yesterday we finally made it to the bank and the grocery store, which must have worn him out completely because he took a three hour nap afterwards.  This morning I had to wake him up so we could be late for MOPS, and yet he played in his crib for over an hour and a half after lunch before falling asleep.  Go figure.  That is exactly why I need to take one day at a time and be flexible if his schedule doesn’t mesh with mine.

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