For the last four months, people have continually asked me, "how are you doing?" and then proceed to apologize for that question. I would always answer, "I'm ok."
I really don't mind people asking me that question, as I know that people love and care.
Unfortunately, the answer is a little too complicated. So, I answer, "ok." I explain that "ok" an average between the "awful, my life has turned into a nightmare" moments and the "wow! I cannot believe how how blessed we are moments."
Almost a month ago, I ran Color Me Rad with Yuma. Several members of Damonds' Family put together a team. Returning to Yuma is obviously hard for me. But remember, I decided to fight! So, when asked if I wanted to sign-up, I decided that although difficult, it would ultimately make me stronger. I knew I would still be training for the half marathon and that a 10K would fit my training schedule better.
I had no idea that it would not be the mileage that would almost bring me down, but the mental and emotional marathon I have been running for the last couple of months.
Again, I have been asked how my race went. The simple answer is "ok".
Here is the complicated answer:
It was fun getting ready to run the race with Damond's family. But like always there is always that gaping hole where Damond should be. I try to push it aside, but it follows me like a constant shadow. As I entered the race area I was slammed by a flood of memories, joyful family memories. The race begins near a river beach where we would bring the boys. We would play with cousins and Damond and his brothers would come up with different kinds of rock skipping competitions. Memories like those are moments that actually have meaning.
Everyone was having a good time and I was trying to stay in positive spirits and stay in the zone, but I kept getting pulled back to memories like that and why we could no longer make those memories with Damond. Most of my runs are similar in it's a constant battle between my brain and my heart.
I began the race bouncing from one joyful memory to another, longing to see/feel/hold/touch Damond. And this is where it gets complicated...
As my heart tries so hard to grasp the impossibility that the Damond of flesh and blood is no longer here with us, my brain counterattacks with its own factual memories.
Me, kneeling on the cold kitchen floor holding onto an enormous hand that will not grasp mine back
pleading, crying "Thomas, Alex, Jacob. Please stay for them. Thomas, Alex, Jacob. Please don't leave us. Thomas, Alex, Jacob. They need you! I need you"
A cold, sterile hospital room praying fervently for a miracle, but hearing, "I'm sorry, but he didn't make it.
Walking the longest hallway of my life, on legs that had absolutely no strength of their own.
Feeling my arms were inadequate for the three beautiful boys that were crying with a sorrow that still haunts me to this day
Each step becomes staggering as these images flash through my mind, but my heart, ever the fighter, rallies back.
We are an Eternal Family! Damond loves us! Our dear Savior, Jesus Christ made it possible for us to see Damond again!
But unfortunately, the halfway mark of the race was the Castle Park.
(last picture I have of Damond, in green shirt at Castle Park)
The same park we visited with the boys and cousins the day before Damond died. The memories begin floating and the battle with my brain begins anew.
I runaway from the battle zone, in search of peace, but instead I find the finish line. I cannot approach a finish line without thinking of Damond. He and the boys cheered for me as I finished my first half marathon. This time, as I crossed the Finish Line, our song (from out wedding) began to play, "Forever and For Always" by Shania Twain. As others partied across the finish line, it was my undoing. But I realized that although, no longer "in his arms, I am keeping him forever and for always."