I'd been journaling about my positive experience two weekends ago but then last Monday happened and I crashed, burned and am in the rebuilding stage. I came off the incredible high of spending an entire weekend with some essential pieces of my tribe and completing the OBX half marathon, four months post baby. Then an unhealthy does of realty hit. You know, the typical life events. Work, errands, Karma Jane to vet. The normalcy led to me being borderline horrible with lots of tears, extra sleeping and plenty of snippiness, aimed mostly at my all too understanding husband. At times, I try and tackle too much normal which results in an odd, emotional fatigue. Now that I've sufficiently whined I'd like to go on to share about a happy experience.
The first few weeks after our Piper died my family coaxed me from the house to take walks. People mumbled things about vitamin D and fresh air. Sometimes I talked, or cried but mostly just truffle shuffled behind them. I stumbled, then walked and eventually ran. I used exercise as a purposeful break from my grief. Every morning I set intentions: eat, shower and exercise. These simple goals were often the only things I could manage to accomplish while Beau was at work.
The familiarity of running was like welcoming back an old friend. Maybe not as dramatic as running towards the light but perhaps the somewhat stability that now exists.I began to crave the physical transfer of energy and the outlet exercise provided. Somewhere in the early weeks I decided to follow my girlfriends and sign up for a half marathon. Did you know fogginess is a symptom of grief? I most definitely did not think it all the way through but wanted to honor my daughter in the sense of my gratitude for my life and health.
The anxiety started about three days before we were to run the race in North Carolina. Some it was the typical stuff. Have I trained enough? Hydrated enough? Ate the right things? On a bit deeper of a feel. Did I trust my body? It let me down four, short months ago, will it hold up? It took me until a few hours before it started to realize the anxiety stemmed from the deeper meaning of this race. I am moving both physically and mentally, not away from Piper, but towards my new life.
Like all of my firsts, this one was brutal. It hurt much more than past races and took me a long time to finish it. If it were not for my friends, I would have succumb to my anxiety at mile 11 and laid down. I cried through mile 12, telling Nichole how much I missed my kid. All my crew crossed the finish line and did so to celebrate Piper's important lesson: you only get one life, keep putting one foot in front of the other, and try to smile when doing it.
Maybe this off week was a result of the mental and physical energy it took to complete 13.1 miles. Or maybe the heavy realization that this will continue dictate how I live each moment of my life. That is some serious responsibility. But the race was a good representation of what it is like living without your child. It's rough, slow and exhausting but you finish it. Then you congratulate yourself, eat some carbs, take some pride and figure out the next step. If you stand still too long that becomes your choice.
Rest easy my darling girl.
Piper Kai Bennett
I will scream, sing and share her story may it be short. Our only child was born still at 36 weeks secondary to an umbilical cord accident. This is our journey about choosing life rather than existence.