Monday, February 25, 2008

Running on empty

As everyone who has read my archives knows, I took care of Marcie constantly from the day she needed help, months before she was bedridden, to the horrible moment itself. It was not just tough on the heart, it was tough on the body.

Before Marcie fell ill, I had rediscovered and reawakened to surfing. Nothing was more relaxing than a long ride on a wave, and I did not care if it was on a fish, a longboard, or a bodyboard. That is, until I saw how much fish and longboards cost.

I may never return to it, or I may flee back into it as the water warms and the gently rocking waves urge me to relax in the cool womb of the Pacific. I just don't know. I do know that when things were very tough, a precious few hours in the water recharged me.

Marcie was not a beach person. But as for my surfing, she loved it and told me how much she enjoyed how very "attentive" to her I was after long session in the waves and a shower.

In time, as her needs grew, such hours were scarce. I managed to squeak a few in here and there, quickly stolen moments of forgetting, all taken before worry and panic drove me back to her.

When she was bedridden, I was relieved to the beach only when a friend or family member showed. Usually, I did not want to leave anyways. I needed to find a new way to exercise. It was critical.

I gained weight after a near-death experience of my own. Due to a careless antibiotic prescription, I swelled and broke out in hives (I am deathly allergic to pnicillin and cephalosporins). I was placed on steroids.

I bloated like a balloon and hit 260 pounds. I began running.

I did not notice at first, but I slowly began to pare the weight off. I would run until I could not, then walk back. It was not far at first, perhaps a mile. Soon it was two, around Morley Field. Then three, around my neighborhood, on flatter ground.

As much as I hated it at first, I forced myself to run. To keep me running, I would thing of the last swallowed tear or the last indignity she suffered. It would drive me on a bit.

I came to run whenever I needed to cry but she needed me to be strong. The salty tears mingled with my sweat and gave me a camouflage of sorts.

Sometimes I ran very far, especially when there was much I had been trying to help her with or that had gone awry with her or our lives in general. Sometimes I ran home spooked, needing to check on her, touch her, kiss her.

I ran to stay alive and to feel as if I was taking care of myself as I cared for her. I ran to try to control my rage as nurses and doctors gave us little more than pitying nods and platitudes. These, too, urged my feet to move.

I ran because it was time for fight or flight, and all the fight I had was not saving her. Flight would not, either. But through it, I could leave the pain of my everyday existence and punish my body until its pain replaced the heaviness, the ache, in my heart.

I still do. It still does. It takes longer to replace the ache, though.

I may never return to surfing, even though I can get a board tomorrow, and a wetsuit, and just get on it. I tried to recently, but it brings back memories of her in our better times, and there is no loving redhead who is happy to see me when I go home.

And in a very acute way, that she was not there became very painful when I stepped out of the shower in that post-session stoke. There was no kiss and warm hug or cuddle on the couch for me, just my head and a beautiful picture of her, and her ashes and candles to light.

I know I will keep running until I run out of pain, until I run out of reason and I run out of time. I still have plenty of all of those, and memories of that time make me want to run away.

For now, I am content to run five or so miles, local and well-traveled. Someday, as is my wont, I will run and not stop until I have a reason to and a place to give that reason context.

Maybe that place will be someplace to surf. Maybe it will be a better place to run.

But maybe I will simply run out of time before I run out of pain and reason.


Teej said...

Maybe you'll go back to surfing, or maybe it will always belong to another time. That's OK.

Some people try to overwhelm their pain with self-destructive behavior, so I'm glad that running, something so good for your body and soul, has become your "medication" of choice. Hang in there.

Lana Banana said...

running on . . . running into the sun . . .

i wish i had the right words, frank. that is, if such things existed. so much happiness and love and pain in your blog . . .

i was born in costa rica and am a beach baby . . . let me say, there is is no more beautiful place to surf than costa rica's pacific central coast. though, ok, to be fair, i may be biased.

what i mean to say is, dear friend, i hope you get to surf again.