My English midterm was due today. It was actually due last week, but I was busy failing an important checkoff for my Paramedics course, so today was the soonest I could schedule to meet up with my teacher to complete my midterm. It was a brief on an essay we had to write. A how to essay. I could have written it on several items. How to avoid poor choices. How to get divorced. How to lose friends. How to control chaos. How to enroll in college as a Senior (and by senior, I mean of the mature age group, not of the upper classmen type), but all of these seemed far too cynical in nature and quite frankly... I'm pretty sure no one but me would see the humor in it. So I opted for a far more socially acceptable topic.
I wrote mine on How to run a Marathon.
It's an extremely basic concept really. You put one foot in front of the other for an extremely absurd amount of time, until you cross a little white line that reads finish. You'll know you're there, even if no one else is next to you and you are unable to read the word "finish" due to going in and out of consciousness from extreme overexertion, because somebody, that's been sitting down for 6 hours waiting for you to finally come crawling across that line, will throw aluminum foil over your shoulders and a medal around your neck... and that medal will mean as much to you as if you had just given birth to it.
I, of course, didn't write that. I wrote about the math and science behind the marathon and once I was finished with my oral presentation, I was forced to answer any questions anyone might have. She asked how many I had ran. Why... when... where...
It was in answering her questions I was forced to answer my own. How the hell did I get here?! And it was in reading my essay that I realized how profound it was to be reading to myself... "How to run a Marathon" written by me.
I'm in the final semester of Paramedic school and while I am no where close to failing and currently maintaining a great GPA, it has been made very clear that I may not pass. If I do pass the course... I may never pass registry... the oral or written tests.
I have wanted to quit more times than I can count. I have never been more exhausted in my life. I'm so close to 40 that I'm surprised my bladder still even works. My kids spend more time on computers and social media than they do on pirate puzzles and the wiggles. I'm not twenty anymore. Hell... I'm not thirty anymore.
I'm raising 4 kids, going to school full time, and holding a full time job. I've managed, for the first time, to get a place of my very own... get divorced... and done my best to help my children to cope with their ever changing special needs. I've done my best to maintain rest, my health, xfit, and my sanity. The cup has spilled over more than once.
Kathryn Switzer was once quoted, when speaking about how brutal the marathon distance was, "Triumph over adversity. That's what the marathon is all about, therefore you know there isn't anything in life you can't triumph over after that."
I have two weeks left of school. That's it... and it may not be enough, but I gave everything I had to give and if it wasn't enough, I will just do as I have always done... take a little longer than the rest of the crowd. I may finish last.
I told my teacher my marathon times. I told her that I have always had to give myself a little pep talk about finishing in the back of the pack. I said: it's an endurance sport... and I endured longer than anyone else, so really... I was the winner. I endured more... and I survived.
I left my midterm and went by the toy store to buy my kids some welcome home gifts. The corner down the street from where I work sits this GIGANTIC teddy bear. I think of my boy every time I see it, so I stopped by to get it. I've missed them and I'm well aware that I've not been made to endure alone. They've been enduring with me.
When I walked in, the woman who worked there approached me and asked me why the giant bear, so I told her about my boy. About both of my boys. About my girls. I told this beautifully put together woman about them, their stay in Kentucky, their struggles. Mine. Our Journey. My marathon. She then spoke of hers.
I would have never, not in a million years, guessed hers to be so similar to mine.
She smiled and said: It sounds like a sad story, but you are extremely happy. I can see it in your eyes. You have beautifully happy eyes. You wear your story well.
If you asked me to describe my eyes to you, I'd tell you they were tired, they were old, they were filled with unwanted sights, and blurry vision. I'd tell you they failed me every single time I tried to study and closed every single time I needed them to open. I would never describe them to you the way she did me.
I've argued my whole life the logic behind not seeing people's souls in their eyes. People give me a feeling. I don't read them well, but I can absolutely get a feeling from their energy, then today, today... one woman at a toy store that I never knew existed, proved her point without any logic at all, rather one simple sentence... "It was a pleasure to be near you today, you have beautifully happy eyes."
I haven't physically run a marathon in 3 years, but I'm still trying to complete the one I started two years ago. The last two miles are ALWAYS the toughest. ALWAYS. I'd forgotten that.
I wanted to quit a long time ago, but I didn't. I've been told I should quit and try again later, but I won't. I'll finish. I may not finish with everyone else, but I'll finish, because we are all designed for this. We are designed to endure.
I'm not sure who said it, but they did... and they said it well:
"There will be days you don't think you can run a marathon. There will be a lifetime of knowing you have." -Unkown
I never had a slice of bread,Particularly large and wide,That did not fall upon the floor,And always on the buttered side.
Thursday, January 15, 2015
I remember getting the phone call. It's not like his death was unexpected. He spent years suffering. Drowning. Dying.
I've never had the luxury of needing anyone. My mother never had the luxury of raising a dependent woman. She herself never had the luxury of being one.
Maybe if I had needed him more, I would have visited more. But I believe, and I could be completely wrong... and totally off base, but maybe had I needed him more, maybe, he would have respected me just a little less.
I don't get the opportunity to write much anymore. I spend my days on a truck, I spend my evenings in class, and when I get a moment free... I spend my time at the gym.
Life hasn't slowed down one bit since his passing.
My kids are getting older. I'm getting older. Things are more complicated.
I'm employed full time as an EMT and in school full time for my paramedic. I'm now raising 4 children. One so very much like me, that in those moments of complete and total frustration, I'm forced to flash back to his face... and it must have looked identical to the one I'm sporting in that moment.
He didn't get to see how things turn out. I'm still not certain what the finish line even looks like, but regardless... he won't see mine.
I guess that's the design of this whole flawed system though. It's like a story game you play in grade school where you write a paragraph and someone else gets to finish your story. You have no guarantee how the whole thing is going to turn out. It could be total crap for all you know, but you do your best to guide them with your words and actions. You're honest about your expectations and lay out the consequences for a total crap ending, but when all is said and done... you only get one chapter... all the other chapters are to be written by someone else.
I'm doing my best to write a chapter worth reading. For as Pericles says:
"What you leave behind is not what
is engraved in stone monuments,
but what is woven into the lives of others."
is engraved in stone monuments,
but what is woven into the lives of others."