Yesterday I wrote about whether or not I should run with my runners group that night, bad shins and all. Well I did run. And it was worth the soreness I’m feeling today.
As I parked my car outside the running store we meet at in Chevy Chase I received the shocking news that my uncle had just passed away. This was very sudden, and comes on the heels of my family rallying together to try and take care of my grandfather who is gravely ill. My uncle and I had grown close the past 8 months. For reasons I refuse to dwell on, he wasn’t around for most of my childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood. He did, however, teach me how to drive a car, a stick shift, which I still drive today. And he and my aunt reached out to me during the past year, taking an interest in my life which has meant more than they could possibly imagine. The past month has been incredibly difficult for my family, but I am so incredibly grateful that I was able to spend time with him in Princeton over Christmas. Aside from the unfortunate circumstances of why were together then, he looked good, was optimistic and ever so loving and gentle. My uncle was a healthy man. He was a surfer and a swimmer who never missed a day in the water.
Needless to say, I was stunned, shocked, confused. I had to get out of my car and just started walking. I felt helpless. I didn’t know what to do. It might sound weird to some people what I did next. But it was the only thing I knew how to do at the time. I went for a run.
My group was small last night, which was kind of perfect. I didn’t say anything to anyone. I wouldn’t have known what to say. Running took on a whole new meaning. And I’m wary of attempting to describe it, because I don’t think I’m able to. But I ran out of necessity. I ran because it was the only thing I could control, and the only thing that could free me. I felt like I was screaming and crying all at once, without having to. And during my last mile – uphill – I meditated on my Uncle Phil. For me, that run was just what I needed. I gave my all for 4 miles (8:47 m/m pace). My shins, and now ankle, hurt, but I finished with a clear head. It’s funny how running can mean so many different things, how it can sometimes be the perfect coping mechanism. It was the perfect answer for me last night. I’m now ready to reflect, and be the best support that I can be to my family. I’m grateful for my health, for my ability to run, and now more than ever that I had the opportunity to get to know my uncle.