Running through grief

I have recently taken up running. It started out as a means to weight loss but it has become a means for me to escape, take time for myself, and feel proud of myself for accomplishing something.

But the funny thing is, I hate running.

I am always thankful when I finish, but I never want to get started. It's hard. It hurts. But about halfway through I find my stride, take a deep breath, and smile when I reach the end of my run.

Almost every time I run, I find myself face to face with....myself. No distractions. No excuses. Just me and my thoughts (which can be quite dangerous, let's just be honest). It can be hard to face the day and realize I brought all my distractions, baggage, and mistakes from the day before. I've got to work them out even though I don't always want to. It's quite humbling. And what I find is that 9 times out of 10, it boils down to grief and how has changed me, my relationships, and my life altogether. I don't say that as a cop-out or to blame grief on all my problems, it's just a testament to how life changing grief can be and how it trickles down into every aspect of your life.

Grief is my marathon. I hate lacing up knowing I have to face the road. I procrastinate. It's a long and difficult race, one that threatens to defeat me. But then I remember that there is a finish line, and that I am capable of pressing on. Even when my body starts to give in, even when I want to give up - if I take it slow, just one step at a time, I can get through it. Grief will not defeat me.

And the most beautiful thing of all is knowing that Jeremy will be waiting for me at the finish line.


Slipping pieces

This past weekend, we finally made a trip up to Canada to see Jeremy's completed grave stone (I may blog more about this later). It's been done for a month and a half now and we haven't been able to get up there before now and it's been tearing at me. I'm so glad we finally got to go see it. It doesn't feel right for something to be done for/about/in honor of him and not be a part of it, because he's a part of me.

I'm always so glad to get up there. Not just to Jeremy's grave (although I strangely look forward to going, perhaps because I know I can't just go anytime and I feel Jer there) but I really ache when I'm away too long. I miss Jeremy's family. My family. I miss his presence that's always in the midst of whatever we're doing there. I miss the familiar smells, faces, and places that are just him. They are not associated with anyone else.

I noticed something happening this trip though. It's happened once or twice before, randomly, but it always catches me off guard and leaves me frustrated and on the verge of tears.

I started to forget.

It's small things. This weekend, while sitting around during our ritual late night conversation filled with inappropriate jokes and bodily sounds (very Jeremy-esque), I suddenly heard in my head the sound of Jeremy burping. Ya know, that manly burp that's loud and obnoxious - he was always so proud of it. Well, he used to try to burp the alphabet and see how far he could get, or more often, he would burp "Ralph Forfar" - don't ask me why. But for a split second, I couldn't remember that name. His sisters had to help me remember, while I choked back tears for forgetting.

It seems trivial and silly, but anyone who has lost someone close understands how scary it can be when pieces of the ones you love start slipping. You suddenly forget the feeling of them next to you, just for a moment, and it scares you half to death. Or you can't remember the name of that one place you went to together, or exactly what started that inside joke. Or for me, not remembering the exact phrase that Jeremy used to repeat all the time from a french cartoon he watched as a kid. It was the only french he could remember and he recalled it anytime someone asked him if knew French (cause apparently all Canadians are supposed to). I can hear the inflection in my head. I can see his facial expressions. But the piece left me for awhile and made me angry with tears every time I tried to remember it.

It taps into my biggest fear: people forgetting Jeremy. If I can't remember a detail about Jeremy and I was closest person to him, who's to say others won't forget things too? Obvious, that's an irrational thought, but grief is not rational. It plays with your every emotion, every insecurity, every fear. It sneaks up and rearranges every puzzle piece you've tried to put back together in your life only to change the picture that was on the puzzle to begin with. The pieces never fit back together like they used to and when the pieces you've held onto the tightest start slipping, it threatens the very breath and life of you.

My only comfort in these moments are focusing on the things I do remember. The things I will NEVER forget. And the things that are only mine. Ours. I'll carry those with me in my heart wherever I go til the day I die.


Grief is always in season

I feel that time coming on.

The weeks leading up to Jeremy's death.
The march.

It feels corny to call it that, and I have to admit I've been resisting it. Because truthfully, I have no reason to complain. Life is good. I have an incredible family, a wonderful loving husband, a beautiful home, and great friends.

But, I feel the hole that can never be filled.

I didn't really realize what it was at first because I was trying to focus on being thankful. But I felt sluggish, tired, emotional about everything, unmotivated....not really wanting to participate in life right now. But the more Steve and I talked through it, the easier I recognized it as grief rearing its ugly head. It makes sense because I held on to all those days before Jeremy died - trying to remember every detail and holding on to every piece. I remember my last October with him. And now, I feel him closer than usual from remembering all those little details I've locked into my heart to never forget.

The distinctly annoying characteristic about grief is that it's always in season. No matter how much I want it to go away, it never goes out of style. There may be days, weeks, or even months when it's more obvious than others but it never really disappears. It follows me around to creep up on me at any given moment.

In the bedtime stories that I remember him reading to the kids.
In a silly chord progression in a hymn at church that he loved to sing.
In the smell of fall.
In the talk of applesauce that Caleb wants to bring as a snack to school.
In a situation where I need his particular advice.
In a photo of Tom Hardy that a friend posted on his FB page that looks eerily like him.

I can't escape it. I stopped trying to. I've learned to embrace, yes embrace, this time and soak up the moments when Jeremy feels close to me. Even if it's painful.


social media, grief, and letting go...

It's taken me 4 months, 1 week, and 5 days to do it....

I finally changed my Facebook status to 'married to Steve Cunningham' instead of 'married to Jeremy King'. 

I realize that this was well overdue. I also realize in most circumstances, this probably would seem very strange, but for some reason, this was a very difficult change for me to make. Steve and I had talked about it many times - he didn't want to push me to do anything I wasn't ready to do, and I didn't feel right changing it OR leaving it the same. I even needed to make sure I ran it by Jer's mom first, to make sure she knew it was coming and to just hear that it was ok to feel so much stress about this silly little change.

The truth is, this was a new facet of grief I hadn't faced yet. And though it seems simple enough, it was hard for me to publicly admit that I am no longer Jeremy's wife (yes, I know I will always be his wife, but I can't be on FB anymore). I am so proud to be Steve's wife, but announcing that in a silly social network forum meant letting go in some weird way of Jeremy. It also meant that people looking for our story wouldn't easily find Jeremy on Facebook through me and visa versa. But knowing Steve had spent his previous marriage in a relationship with someone who didn't even want to acknowledge him, I knew it was important for Steve to understand how much I adore him and how honored I am to be his wife. And Facebook won't let me be married to them both (I know, the nerve!)

Sometimes I really hate letting go. But as Taryn so beautifully stated in her earlier post this week, "it isn't this horrible phrase consisting of forgetting those you love more than yourself...it allows you to love them even more and grasp the immense amount of love still out there " 

I am here today because of the love Jeremy taught me, and I get the privilege of paying that fierce love forward in my relationship with Steve. So, I continue to love Jeremy more while grasping the immense love I have now. That is a decision I feel good about.

And I can't help but wonder if grief before social networks was a little less complicated...


2nd Annual Memorial Pheasant Hunt

I never seem to have time to get on to post much more these days. It's like I have a house full of kids or something. Oh, wait...

Anyway, I wanted to take a minute to post the pictures from this weekend. Some of Jeremy's dearest friends hosted the 2nd Annual "All the King's Men" Jeremy King Memorial Pheasant Hunt. It was a beautiful day, and I continued to be humbled at the ways people remember and honor Jeremy. My biggest fear is that people will forget his life, his legacy, and the mark he made of the world and those around him. But my heart feels at peace surrounded by those he loved when we continue to remember. With this crowd, I know he won't be forgotten.

The men who hunted - including Jer's dad, best friend from Canada, and people all across the board who knew him or knew of him. 

Jer's best friend, Andy. Such a great guy, and I'm so glad he could make it!

Even my dad came out to hunt, which was very special.

My aunt Nancy, Uncle Rex, and Dad :)

All the beautiful kids who came out for the yummy food!

I love the way Steve continues to support and honor Jeremy as well. What a guy!

My momma King. Don't know what I'd do without her.

Thank you to everyone who participated (including those who came just for lunch and those who helped prepare food) - you'll never know how grateful I am to see Jeremy's legacy live on.


Related Posts with Thumbnails