Today I ran.

Because it’s summer, and folks are vacationing, and sleeping late, I ran alone, which means that I stayed local.

It means that I ran…there.

There is a lovely place to run, when I am pressed for time or short on the motivation needed to drive to the woods and run 5 miles or more.  But to get to there, I have to pass the scene.  The scene where weeks ago, my world changed.  The scene where I stepped out of the back of a police car to see my baby boy – 13 years old, but always my baby – lying bloodied and battered in the street, surrounded by emergency responders, and flashing lights.  The scene of my nightmare.

Now of course, weeks later, we know that it has a happy ending.  My son is alive, everything seems to be in order with his body and its functionality, and now it is just a matter of him healing.

So I guess it’s now that all of the hoopla has died down, all the traipsing back and forth to the hospital, all the doctor’s visits, the phone calls and sympathy, the wonderful outpouring of support and dinners…now that we are back to “normal,” I am finally getting a chance to work through my feelings.

So when I run, and I cross that street…it’s like flashbacks, to that terrible, terrifying time.  And running is supposed to be an escape for me…so I try to escape, past the street, into the park where I was watching a soccer game when I got the news.  Up the hill that I was sitting on that day, sweat, now, push a little harder, around the corner to the shade and relief from the memories.  I did not round this bend that day.  Here, I am free.

I run my loops, each step putting distance between today and my memories, until I am merely on a gravel path, sweating in the sun, panting in the shade, watching a small group of older gentlemen practicing for softball. (One hits a beauty. His friend reaches his glove for it; it tips the glove and continues on its course. “Nice catch,” calls his friend, the batter.  They all cackle; I smile.)

The breeze kicks up, soothing my brow, cooling me as I crunch on the gravel beneath the trees on my favorite section of track, the part where I can pretend that I am not running around fields and playgrounds in the suburbs, but am rather beneath the trees in the woods.

I come out, head down the hill, and on my phone, “Paradise” by Coldplay comes on, as the wind carries the fragrance of wild roses to me, and in that moment, it is paradise, and I say a prayer of gratitude:

Thank you, for this exact life.  Thank you for my son. Thank you for the things you are teaching me through the lessons you are giving me. Thank you.

Like that, it all falls away.

It will be there again, the next time.  But I will run anyway, and somewhere in the crunch of the gravel, the sting of sweat in my eyes, the music of laughter and companionship…it will fade again, until I, too, am healed.

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