You just never know when out on a run, who you might come across and what they might teach you if you just open your eyes...unplug from your electronic devices, unplug from your own being and look around....
At the time, it was one of the funniest moments I had out on a run in recent weeks. This past month while in recovery from two major surgeries, for some reason, I remembered this moment. I didn't get it at the time, but having been to the black abyss of pain, sorrow, and anger...I finally got it.
I was on the corner waiting for the pedestrian light to flash. Yes, most days, I am that runner that ignores the lights...but today, I was running from downtown and just enjoying my run, my life, my city...life was good, I paused at the corner to take it all in and wait for the light.
A moment later, an older woman joins me, and in my happy, running through daisies, sing-song tune, I turn to her and say, "Hi, how are you today?"
"I'm f*%#ing terrible. The rain makes my back hurt"......
I was stunned. I didn't know what to say so I muttered a "I'm sorry...I think it might clear up for tomorrow" and then, quickly jogged across the street to continue on my way.
That week, I told this story a dozen times...to my colleagues, to my running buddies...we all laughed...we couldn't stop...the shock of a complete stranger telling the truth so raw and open.
In retrospect, what else could she say...that she was fine? And what was it that made me so uncomfortable with the truth?
A story that made me laugh so hard one day... could literally make me cry today. I am queen of the "everything's fine." The past three months, I have lived it. I'm tired of saying that I'm fine...that I'm myself...that I feel good....normal....when I am nowhere close to fine or normal.
It has been a hard transition at work for me. I manage a health club...I am the face there to help people feel better, look better. I pick them up when they come in, and hopefully, send them off feeling even better when they leave. They ask me endless questions about what classes or workouts I do...how did I qualify for Boston, what do I eat to keep my energy?
Now, I walk across the parking lot into my club, and I want to hide in the back, because I'm afraid one of my beloved members is going to ask me how I'm doing, and I'm not going to be able to pull of the "I'm fine." I might turn and tell them about the chronic pain and inflammation I have during the day, whenever it feels like rearing it's ugly head. How I am still battling infection in one of my 5 incisions. How I can barely pull my left leg up in any kind of position without using my hands. How sometimes I can't feel an entire part of my leg, and I'm not sure if that's permanent. That I don't want to be a negative Nancy, but it is exhausting trying to keep everybody else positive about my progress...when really, I am not fine. 50 shades of nowhere close to f***ing fine...
To the general public, I probably do look just that... fine. And to many cancer survivors, newly diagnosed, and current fighters...I am doing fine...there are people in much worse scenarios. I do, however, fight my own battles on a daily basis...physically and emotionally.
If I was fine, I would get up at 5am...go bang out 7 miles, shower without using the antibacterial soap and have to re-bandage everything post shower. I would throw on anything I felt like wearing...my cute cuffed jean shorts, or my orange ones, or whatever called to me that day. I wouldn't put the dreadful hospital grade nude sleeve on my leg. I wouldn't have to wear a dress or skirt in case the swelling hits while I'm at work. If I was fine, I wouldn't be thinking about my odds of recurrence and statistics of life expectancy.
I haven't quite figured out my "new" fine...Right now, physically, I am watching for signs of lymphodema, draining from one of my five incisions, and just scheduling all my appointments, scans, mri's...trying to move forward in this new fine. Emotionally, I am praying before brain mri's, blood work, and everything else...praying that my family will have me for as long as they need me...
I think back to that woman on the corner and wish I had been more aware and less self absorbed. Maybe I would have noticed her in visible pain...maybe I could have offered her an arm across the street? I don't know...maybe she just needed someone to hear her. Maybe the next time someone says fine to me, I will look them in the eyes and see which kind of fine they really mean.
- What started as a little experiment in blogging has evolved into my renewed love for writing the raw, gritty truth. Running has always had so many parallels to life's ups and downs. As a new cancer survivor/fighter, running and writing has continued to be there for me in my quest to always move forward, always try to be better than yesterday. Find me: http://www.curetoday.com/community/kate or on facebook: running, cancer, and everything in between or on twitter: runliftbreathe