Thursday, March 10, 2011

Running Through the Pain

Running through the pain of a broken heart is no easy feat. By being able to run and through the love and support of my running community I have made it through a marathon of a different kind this week. Last Saturday I received an email no one ever wants to receive. The subject: Terrible News. It read, "Charlie jumped off of his fishing boat and he is gone. Will call you later." Charlie was my nephew, my brother's first born son and 2nd oldest child. I screamed and cried when I read the email. My first anguishing thought was not grandfather and grandson. This cannot be possible. For those of you who may not know, when I was 17 and my brother 19, our father suicided. Paul and I talked and cried together. Of course I would be there. What did he need?

Rather than focusing on the events of this past week, I want to focus on how I got through something I never thought I would have to go through again in this lifetime. How does one get through losing two loved ones to suicide? On Saturday I returned to an old favorite coping mechanism. I cleaned. I changed linens, did laundry and took no prisoners. Dust bunnies ran for their lives. On Sunday, Tom and I were planning to go to the yoga for runners class at South Boston Yoga Studio. We set the alarm and when it went off I no more wanted to head to a yoga class than take a trip to the moon. I knew that it was crucial to take care of myself through this time. How wonderful to open and stretch although all I wanted to do was to curl up in a ball in bed until I awoke from this nightmare. As the reverend who officiated the memorial service said, "How dare we love that which death can take away?"

On Monday I did my upper body strength training focusing on opening my heart chakra as I spread my arms open wide with 3 pound weights on a pilates ball. I focused on health and wholeness and gave thanks for the healing in my life. I packed for our trip to Rhode Island on Tuesday and reached out to friends via email. The outpouring of love and support from the running community and the prayers and love which flowed from my dear friends kept me strong and fueled for the next leg of this grueling marathon.

Tuesday morning I felt so depleted. I had written my eulogy for Charlie but during morning meditation, I realized I needed to make some changes. I knew God was directing me to connect Charlie with his grandfather and then to heal the pain with a rainbow bridge of love and comfort. A dear friend of mine who is also a minister sent me a beautiful email which I knew I was meant to incorporate into the eulogy. A part of me could not wait to get to Rhode Island to be with my brother, his partner (and our friend from high school) and my nieces and nephews. A part of me wanted to say, 'No thank you. I'll sit this one out thank you very much.' The ambivalence, and the pain of grief was an energy drain to be sure. Regardless, I laced up my running shoes and went for a 3 miler. My friends on Daily Mile sent me motivation knowing that it was a pain filled run. I put on my iPod and let the words and rhythm of different songs wash over my soul. I showered, finished packing and off we went to Rhode Island.

My former sister in law is a water pilates instructor. She asked me if I would like to have a class before we got ready for Charlie's service. The hotel had a heated pool but I was hesitant to pack my bathing suit thinking I would never have time for a swim. I thought I would just use Wednesday as my day off from exercise this week. At the last minute I decided to pack my bathing suit and was so glad I did. The hour we spent together was healing on so many levels.

I made it through the service, the eulogy and the luncheon. I would call Wednesday the Heartbreak Hill of this week's marathon. The church had standing room only with an overflow in the ante room of the church. The outpouring of love spoke to who Charlie was and is at his essence. (A word that both my brother and I used during our eulogies). At the luncheon, my brother's partner asked if she could get a ride back to the hotel. She was exhausted and wanted to get changed and refuel. We told my brother we would meet everyone back at the hotel. We got into comfortable clothes and had time to to decompress in the lobby before everyone else returned. We exchanged current phone numbers, email addresses and friended each other on facebook. Having run this marathon together we now shared a special bond and wanted to make sure we kept in close contact with each other despite busy and disparate lives.

Today is a new starting line. The reverend talked about breathing and breathe we must and grieve we must despite having a stone on our chests. During this morning's meditation, I released the stone and am allowing the grief to wash through me. I will cross train at the gym today with my training, running and life partner Tom as we get ready to run the Celtic 5K on Sunday. Our daughter comes home tomorrow. She could not come in for the service because of her school and work commitments. She asked if she could run the Celtic 5K with us on Sunday. Team McManus will run the race together. There will be no PR planned. We will be out there with loving friends and we will be running through the pain but transforming the pain through love, joy and laughter as we begin anew.

Below is a photo of my nephew Charlie scallop fishing where he found his joy and bliss on the sea:

I am glad you were able to find your peace at last dear Charlie. May the hearts of my brother and his children find peace, comfort and healing.

God bless, be well and live like you were dyin
From my heart to yours with love and gratitude,


j. said...

Mary, I am so sorry for your loss. Your blog entry brought tears to my eyes. My heart and thoughts go out to you and your family. I hope that the good memories can one day ease the pain of your loss.

Doug W said...

Love you Mary! Can't wait to see you Sunday! Lex is thinking about walking the Celtic 5k on Sunday...