Thursday, January 31, 2013

Breathe Run Fight Repeat

It was over a year ago that we faced the custody battle for our 4th child. Three full days of testimony. Overwhelming emotions on both sides. I remember going to yoga every day that week, finding comfort in the simplicity of postures and breath. Letting the stress and sadness slip away in the repetition of sun salutations.

Mountain pose... forward fold... halfway lift...

It was a spring day, I walked out of the doctor's office with medical news that rendered me powerless against my own body. And so I ran.

Running shoes pounding into the earth... Music cranked up in my earbuds... Crisp air searing my lungs.

As if eagle pose or triangle had any effect on the custody of my son. As if the mile markers passing by could change what the doctor had said.

Tonight I'll go to my martial arts class with the same spirit.

I tell those stories because I'm not completely sure how to begin.... I'm better at writing make-ya-laugh, make-ya-smile, make-ya-sigh kind of posts. And today my heart is heavy, heavy with tragedy that isn't even my own. Today I am contemplating how we process grief, loss, powerlessness.

Of course, we all cope differently. Some cry, vent, pray, shop, deny, drink, hide, eat, sleep.... and so on. But what's on my mind specifically is how the physical activities we love help us deal with life events that are beyond our control.

On Tuesday my cousin & his wife unexpectedly lost their weeks-old baby.

I have no words.

Nothing I can say is adequate.

This child shares the same name as my youngest son, a son brought into this world with extensively severe medical issues. I will confess to you that there have been moments in the last 48 hours in which all I could think was this could have been my baby. This could have been me. So selfish, I know.

And there is nothing I can do. Of course i will do the usual things, I will send condolences, I will pray, I will hug my own babies just a little bit tighter.

But tonight I will also go to the gym and I will train just a little bit harder. I will focus just a little bit more. I will plead with my instructor to let us run, let us fight, to turn the music on, turn it up. I will try to be just a little bit stronger. As if somehow that strength could go out from me and fill up the night. As if by feeling powerful myself, I could combat the powerlessness of tragedy, of loss, of things beyond human control.

Do you do this? Runners, do you run through the woods or down the street, as if the time that heals could be more quickly elapsed if you could just run further, run faster? What about those of you who do different sports? Do you find solace, strength, sanctuary, on a golf course, in a weight room, on a basketball court?

Whatever you do, what is amazing about these simple physical acts of moving, training, trying... what is simultaneously sad and beautiful, devastating and glorious, is that they change nothing, but they change you.