Running along the sidewalk this morning, I’d make mental deals with myself. If I make it to the end corner, next bench, over the bridge, to the tree with low branches, I could stop.
This way, I end up running the entire way, but trick my body into thinking it will stop soon. Can’t believe I still fall for it. But I do, and I keep going. My handy little Nike device telling me how far I’ve gone, when I’ve hit the half-way mark, and all while staying in the shade of the big trees.
My breath finally catching a rhythm I stick with, thinking of how much I love the mornings when the kids are in school and wondering why I don’t find myself running each and every morning.
As I passed one of the benches I told myself I could stop at, I found two little old ladies sitting there watching the people go by.
And something told me they were widows who found themselves in the company of each other – nothing like a good girlfriend to make life okay again.
I smiled at them as I ran by, and the one in a brown dress waved back. Huge smile and the sweetest look on her face. Like she, too, was happy to be out in the fresh air.
I thought about how even though she didn’t know it, I could have sat on that bench with her and her friend, belonging to the same club of women who have lost their spouse.
That thought made me run faster, and by the time I reached my turn around point, my heart was beating so fast I could hardly catch my breath.
I picked out a bench for Wayne yesterday. A memorial bench made of granite, just like the one they were sitting on.
I did it while Claire played with an owl, making it dance along the headstones as I talked to the salesperson about the pros and cons of black vs. grey granite (heat retention).
I watched her play among the headstones, kneeling down to use the tops as a table for her toys, and her playful nature completely unaffected by the look on my face.
Sweet Cade who refused to come inside the showroom, opting instead to stay in the car and watch a movie.
The only thing he said to me was, “Does Rylan know you are DOING this?”
Like I was betraying him, and Caeden was going to be loyal.
And I walked back into the store, wondering for what seems like the millionth time, if I was doing enough to keep Wayne’s memory alive for a little boy who avoids the topic at all costs.
Avoids sadness at all costs.
And really, I don’t blame him. All we’ve been trying to do is bring sunshine and love back into his heart – into all of our hearts – and why in the world do I keep bringing up the opposite?
And so, over a year has passed since that snowy night that the van lights faded into the night, taking Wayne with it, and here I was, writing out what I wanted his Memorial bench to say. All of it feeling completely against the odds that I watched my 3 year old play while my 7 year old was mad and while I tried to get my hand to stop shaking long enough to write what I wanted it to say.
None of it looking like my writing, and forgetting to add “brother” to the list of who he was.
And I, on the way home, tried to figure out how to tell Rylan what I had done and how it felt.
And instead of telling him straight away, I found myself extremely quiet and just wishing he could read my mind and hug me tight.
Because it is complicated and hard and not perfect to honor Wayne in a way I always have/always did, while seeking comfort in another’s arms.
Hoping my new life and my old life can stop overlapping because it takes a toll on me. But when has life ever been black and white?
And so, last night while we pushed the kids on the swings outside, I listened to Claire talk to Rylan, watched Caeden and Grace go back and forth with who was “higher,” and I reminded myself that all I want and need is right in front of me, and when I need a reminder of just how fleeting and precious life is – I have a place to go to think about it.
A new bench to aim for when I run.