Tuesday, May 30, 2006

One more week

Except for a few cool days, we’ve had an amazing spring. The weather has been warm and everything is lush and blooming. The roses in my front gardens are growing without any help from me.

We went on a great family hike on Memorial Day. I don’t think I’ve seen so much foliage and greenery in this high desert since we moved here. The kids had a blast just running down the trails. The highlight for them, though, was throwing rocks into a reservoir. It reminded me of how simple it can be to entertain them.

As I look to the beginning of my summer next week, I hope I keep this in mind. The transition to full-time mom can be hard, but I know that it’s nothing I can’t handle. Hell, “school days” are over – I can have happy hour every day.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Harrison is six today. It has been a year of growth. He is finishing Kindergarten and is a beginning reader. He can play board games without throwing the pieces everywhere. He has learned to play catch and has really shown an interest in baseball. He is making friends and starting to ask for play dates. He occasionally uses his manners without being prompted. He can create ships and robots out of a pile of loose Legos. He can follow a treasure map. His drawing skills have expanded dramatically, as well as his writing abilities. He is about to lose his second tooth. He likes to be called "Harry" because it's easier to write.

My little preschooler is definitely becoming an elementary student. It's hard to believe.

He decorated this cake all by himself.

He loves the movie "Sandlot" which is about a bunch of boys playing baseball. We got him a brand new baseball in the wrapper in honor of the movie. Ella got him an airplane that is harder to fly than we thought. Dad had to give Harrison some advice.

Chris had a hard time following his own advice. It ended up in the neighbor's tree.

Friday, May 19, 2006

I ran to remember

Running three miles isn’t terribly hard for me. I’ve been running for about 16 years and with my extra half-marathon training lately, three miles has become an “easy” day for me. So why was I wide awake at 4 AM last Saturday wondering if I would be able to run an entire 5K? Probably because it has become a habit – this waking up in the middle of the night thing - but I was worried because I have performance anxiety when it comes to running. If it is organized in any way (group run, race, etc) I get really nervous.

I got up about 5:00 and waited for the sun to rise enough so that I could go outside. I ran three miles, so that I would get more mileage in, and came home to get the kids up and ready. They were so confused. We don’t have school? Then how come we have to get up? They headed to the neighbors so that we could get down to the Race for the Cure site in time. Last year I was late starting the race, waiting in line at the Porta Potty!!, and I vowed not to be late this year.

The weather was perfect. The cool air was not too cold for shorts, but just enough for a light weight long sleeved top. Chris and I parked at his office and walked the four blocks to the start. Each corner brought more and more people. Some people wore their race T-shirts. Some had their numbers already pinned on. Many had some form of light pink on. The anxiety rose into my throat as I chit chatted with one of Chris’ co-workers whom we ran into in his parking lot. As the crowds thickened, I became more and more withdrawn. Chris and I stood by the sign appropriate for our anticipated finish time. We didn’t have a lot to say. The scene that formed around us was enough to keep us entertained. Every once in awhile Chris would point out a sign on someone’s back, “Hey, look at that – she has survived twice!” “Yeah,” I would glumly respond, “that’s amazing.” We waited about twenty minutes and as each minute passed, I became more and more upset. I had a hard time pin-pointing what it was that was upsetting me. It wasn’t even a conscious feeling. It was actually pretty subtle. I accepted that I was probably feeling sad, but down deep I knew it was more than that.

I heard someone behind me say that he saw the smoke from the starting gun. Even though we were pretty far from the starting line, the crowd moved quickly. As we got near the line, there were people on the side cheering and there was a song blaring so loudly that it became distorted as we ran by the speakers. It was Melissa Etheridge singing “This Is Not Goodbye”. My eyes immediately teared up and I began to try and get around the people in front of me. I wanted to run faster. To get away, but I couldn’t. The crowd was too thick. It was at this point that Chris said, “I find this so inspirational!” and I responded, “This makes me so angry!” Right or wrong, that was how I was feeling. I couldn’t find inspiration in the bright pink back signs entitled “In Celebration Of…” I only could see the many “In Memory Of…” back signs dabbled amongst the masses. The song’s lyrics were ripping through me: “I run for hope, I run to feel, I run for the truth and all that is real, I run for your mother, your sister, your wife, I run for you and me, my friend... I run for life.”

Chris ran ahead for awhile and I became pretty discouraged. My legs felt like rubber. I had run out of gas. At about mile 2, Chris rejoined me and I told him that I thought I might need to walk. I felt so stupid and weak. I didn’t know what was wrong. It was at this point that I started to cry. Sob. I instinctively covered my face, but found it pretty difficult to run with my hand over my face. Chris started to talk about my mom. He told me that he was thinking of my mom and all she went through these past eight years struggling with her cancer. He equated whatever “pain” I was in as “nothing” in comparison to all the chemo and fatigue she felt through the years. A woman on the side of the road yelled to me, “You can do it!” That embarrassed me pretty badly and got me through it. I even laughed. “She thinks I can’t run 3 miles!”

As I ran through the narrow street to the finish, I was so glad to be done. I did feel that I had accomplished something, but it was not a physical feat – it was something else. Chris put his arm around me and asked me if I felt better. I did. I finally accepted that maybe, just maybe, he had a much clearer understanding of the heartache I have been going through. He saw that I was a member of this freakish club of people deeply affected by breast cancer. I am not discounting the emotions that he’s been going through. He loved my mother very much. More than that, he loved the way she loved me. However, I have taken his non-communication about my mom’s death as a sign of not realizing that I have been grieving deeply each day since December 13th.

As we drove to pick up the kids, I knew that this time alone with my husband, and my mom, was almost over. I will run this race again and it will always be agonizing, but I raised more money than I expected and that is something I need to do every year.

A couple of people asked me later in the day how my “fun run” was. How could I explain the emotions those three long miles had taken me through? I couldn’t. All I said is that it wasn’t “fun”.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Happy Birthday to me

My FOURTY-SECOND (aaaahhhh!!) birthday was Friday. Since I was running the Race for the Cure yesterday morning, Chris threw me a party last night. It was a huge success.

This is a picture of my birthday cake. (A "real" one was also served for the rest of the crowd!)

P.S. The Race for the Cure was inspirational and extremely emotional. I even started crying pretty hard around the second mile! I am so glad my husband was there to keep me going. Thank you all for your words and dollars of support!!!!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Digging through Harrison’s parent folder at preschool the other day, I found this note.

Dear Mom and Dad,

I broke the Blue Class’ birdfeeder. It was a class project. Miss C would like it replaced. Could you please help me replace it?

Thank you, Harrison

“I don’t know how it happened. Me and A were just hitting it over and over and it fell apart!” Harry explained after I started raising my voice and trying to control my anger. (This is not exactly the first problem Harrison has had late in the afternoons at preschool.) After digesting the entire story of Harrison’s misadventure with a birdseed birdfeeder in the shape of a heart, I found two violets back at home on the counter that he had planted in Kindergarten for me. Next to the potted flowers was a card. On the front it said, “Mom” and had a BEAUTIFUL drawing of my face. Underneath the picture was “I (heart) U.” Inside he had answered these questions:


Your age is: 41 (correct)

Your weight is: 40 lbs. (almost correct)

You’re as tall as: the door

I want to take you on a trip to: Minnesota

If I had a lot of money I’d buy you: flowers

You’re favorite food is: chicken (not correct)

I make you happy when: I smile (that one made me tear up)

You are so: good

My favorite time with you is: storytime

Yeah, I would say the card pretty much negated the hysteria that the first note had caused.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Long week

I've never been close to anyone who has lost someone close to them. My grandparents either died before I was born, or died when I was too young (or adolescent) to appreciate what my mom was going through. One of my friends lost her mom when I was in my twenties, but I lived so far away that I never really saw, or felt, her pain. That's it.

So here I am – going through this incredibly awful experience basically alone. I don’t think that people truly understand what grief feels like unless they’ve been through it. I’m fairly new to this town, but am fortunate to have made some good friends. Fortunately, most of them can only sympathize, but not empathize. I don’t want them to know what this feels like – to lose a person in your life that gave you complete loyalty and unending love.

So where does this leave me? Alone with these feelings. Feelings that I can’t put into exact words, but I want to so that someone else might get it. Feelings of sadness, anger, frustration, relief (I don’t have to find her the perfect gift this Sunday), guilt and emptiness.

I never thought I’d be the type to experience “anniversary” feelings – those feelings a person gets on the anniversary of a death, the person’s birthday, etc, but I am. I am struggling with Mother’s Day. The cards, the special ad inserts in the paper, and the commercials. They really bug me.

I’m hoping that the run this weekend, Race for the Cure, is healing instead of painful. I know it will probably be both.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Six weeks

I’m pretty sure that healthy living is not all it’s cracked up to be.

Eating healthy…I eat at least five servings of vegetables daily, lean chicken, fish and Boca burgers. I avoid sweets, eat low fat cinnamon graham crackers or Life cereal instead, and eat a variety of fruits. I keep my portions small and follow the Weight Watchers point plan religiously. For some reason I cannot cheat when I’m dieting and yet can’t really control a low-calorie lifestyle for the long run.

Exercising…I run four days a week and cross train on another. I’m not sure if it’s my age - or the altitude - or a combination of the two, but every year it seems harder to exercise. I don’t seem to have the lung capacity. It takes me twice as long to gain stamina and endurance as it used to. That’s not too fun when you’re in a hurry to run a long distance. The half marathon I’m training for is on June 3rd – only ONE month away.

Bottom line…I gained two pounds overnight - one pound for the week.

This is so much fun.