This past week has gone by in such slow motion. Even slower than I run (or walk). It's been like trying to navigate through molasses. As I was thinking about it, though, I realized that although I have not gone through all the phases of grief, I've experienced changes that are similar to what I go through in an Ultramarathon (which by definition is any race greater than 26.2 miles which is a marathon).
First there was disbelief and shock that my friend had gone to another existence - one which was out of reach of all those who loved her. There were abundant tears and hope that the phone would ring and I would find out there was an error or something just as incredulous. The disbelief part (not the tears usually) is equivalent to the start line of a race that you've been preparing for and waiting for all year long - since you hit the finish line (or not) in last year's race. Now you can't believe it's actually here.
The next day I was able to make it through the day because of all the distractions at work - keeping me busy and interacting with others whom I care about. This was my way to block out the fact that I have a long road ahead of me until I can really accept that she's gone forever. At the start line of a race and early on before people leave you in their wake, you have lots of distractions. You are busy tying your shoes, getting your water bottle right and talking to everyone around - some of whom you might not have seen in a long time - simply distractions so you don't have to worry about the road ahead and how tough it might be.
But then I came home. The distractions were gone. Life was back to what it was yesterday - empty. I see everything around me that reminds me of her. The void cannot be filled. This is like being out on the road (or trail) after everyone has left you and you're on your own without anyone to help you through the pain that's up ahead. After awhile there's no new distractions and you're alone with your thoughts.
This emptiness and low mood continues for who knows how long. I don't want it to continue and something inside of me tells me that I will get better but I can't see that any time soon. I don't know how I will get over this. On the road of an ultramarathon, it's not uncommon to wonder if the race will ever end. I need others around me to help me through it. But there aren't others. I am alone on the road and in my life and in my grieving.
There will be a finish line but as with all of my slow running I have absolutely no idea when I might reach it. It's heartbreaking, discouraging and although aid stations (or road angels) help lift the mood, I know it's only tempoary.
I can't believe how much I miss my friend. And of course you all know that this is right on top of the loss of my ability to do the 314 mile race across Tennessee this year because of my post-shingles pain.