Edward’s 53rd Birthday
Comfortably run. No, not a typo. Simply a not particularly brilliant nod to Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb”. I do indeed mean that I am comfortably run.
By a 10 km road run.
I am more than a little bit pooped.
I can’t remember the last time I did a 10 km. I have memories of doing them when the three kids were in single and double baby joggers. Mike and I used to do the Divonne-les-Bains 10 km – for sure for a few consecutive years. At least once, my dad joined us, and when he did, Mike pushed Ben and Megan in the blue double baby jogger, and dad pushed Julia in the purple single baby jogger. I got out of pushing any baby joggers from time to time, and Mike and dad still came in faster than me.
Today, soon after starting the “Race for Gift” 10 km “Course Solidaire” (where all 400 participants were raising money for Geneva charities), I saw a man and woman running side by side, each pushing a baby jogger – him with a double and her pushing a single. I watched them as I ran about 50 m behind them for the first one to two kilometres. We were running at about the same pace and so our distance apart didn’t change. Until either I ratcheted up a notch, or they ratcheted down one, and I caught them up. As I went past, I said, “my husband and I did what you are doing, about 20 years ago – with both a single and a double baby jogger. It’s so much harder. Bon courage and I hope it goes well”.
On the second 5km loop, the man whizzed past me – I figured he must have left his wife at the 5km mark or decided to run at his natural, faster pace. But then I caught him up again a few minutes later as the jogger’s front wheel had come off. He was saying to his rather large son, who had asked why it had come off, “Because you’re too heavy for this now”. Oh dear. I decided to leave them to it and hope that they got back safely. They were about as far from the start/finish as they could be. Taking your kids in baby joggers on 10 km runs is a form of babysitting, but there does come a point when one parent needs to stop running with you, or you enlist an au pair or babysitter. We were lucky to have au pairs once Ben then Megan were too big to be pushed around. Julia though had years in the single baby jogger. It was one of the few ways we could get her to have a nap, with her much older siblings not needing them from the time she was born.
Yes. It was a form of babysitting – to go on a run, pushing the baby joggers. It took me back almost two decades. A sweet picture of a family of five.
I miss that sweet innocence. Two of the five now dead. Who would, who could have imagined it as we jogged, innocently, three generations of us, around the Lac de Divonne?
Anyway, back to 2022, when today I ran my first 10 km in close to 20 years. (I have done many semi-marathons – just not 10 kms). I was doing it to raise money for La Maison de Tara, on the day that would be Edward’s 53rd birthday.
Thanks to some extraordinary sponsorship from people, I raised over 2,000 CHF for the hospice. It’s not too late to sponsor me! Now that you know I have finished 😉
I asked my sponsors if they would like me to put the name of a loved one who has died (or end of life) on my running t-shirt, and almost all said Yes. I had the names of 25 lost/dying loved ones on my shirt, all coming around with me.
I have met about 1/3 of them. Another 1/3 I have not met but heard myriad stories about. And another 1/3 I don’t know much about, but know how deeply they are loved, what they mean to the person who sponsored me, and what that sponsoring person means to me in my life.
I have an image of ripples in a pond, flowing out and bumping into other ripples, and together becoming one beautiful pool of love, impact and connection.
Julia was there too, of course, on my t-shirt – her name so prominent that a spectator called out to me at one stage, “Allez Julia! And I thought to myself, “Yes – come on Julia – help me out here sweetheart”.
I decided before the event that I would call on Mike and Ed, Jubee and Don to lift me along a bit, but doing so was too much. It made me start to sob. And I have learned over the years that sobbing and running do not mix well.
So I widened the circle of names, and on occasion ran through the names, the lost loved ones, I had been entrusted with. It was a bit of a mind game, trying to remember all 25 names. I always missed out one or two. But here in writing, let me acknowledge, (in addition to Mike, Julia, Ed and Don), Stephen, Adrian, Karel, Paolo, Grazia, Dolores, Margaret, Brian, Heather, Jessie, Paul, Les, Nick, Amanda, Tadeusz, Emily, Eliane, John, Bunty, Helen and Christine all out on a run with me. And their loved ones.
Such an honour, to be entrusted with friends’ and colleagues’ parents, siblings, colleagues, lovers, partners and spouses.
Such a treat to be held by them, to be holding them – I don’t even know who was doing the holding – around my 10 km course.
To be flown with them, to fly with them.
To have their spirit wings with me on my shoulders, whispering encouragement into my ears, lifting my heart (and legs).
Lifting me with their spirits along the shores of Lac Léman/Lake Geneva.
Except it wasn’t really lifting. It was distraction when it was a mental mind game. But otherwise, emotionally, it was heavy. It was hard.
These people – all so very loved. Loved by me, loved by others. It’s distressing that they are not still around. The impact of their absence still palpably felt on the lives of those who sponsored me. Whether they are still alive, or died last year, or even 50 years ago.
As I got to the finish line and managed to put in a little spurt (that did not get me under one hour but not to worry – there’s a first for everything, even running my first ever 10 km in over an hour), I burst into tears. I sobbed and sobbed.
Medjool was there, waiting, with Black the dog, and just he walked alongside me, making immediate space for my need to cry.
Not wanting to stop. Not wanting to talk. Not even wanting to be held. Just needing to cry.
To release some of the pain – not from the running, but from the heaviness and sadness at these gorgeous people not being around.
Of Ed not having his 53rd birthday, today, 22nd May.
Of his daughters not having their dad for so many years now.
Of all my people’s people missing a beautiful day and event around the lake.
Of so many people missing their loved ones – always.
It can feel so heavy.
We took our time going home, and Medjool, who’d already taken care of Black all morning, continued to take care of me the way Mike would if I were tired for whatever reason.
He sorted out a late lunch while I sat outside with fresh mint tea. And later went to do some helpful shopping so I had time to write this.
I feel nurtured. Cared for. Loved.
I feel Chouchoutée. Pampered.
And comfortably run.
An eventful day. A hard day. And a good day.
Remembering Ed and so many others.
By golly – you are so loved.