Saturday, 30 January
It’s been a week since my mom died. Her memorial service was on Thursday, her cremation on Friday. It marks the end of a long, difficult time. But, really, it’s more of an ellipsis than a full stop, as I feel I’m simply treading water between difficult times. My struggle with her may have come to an end but my dad continues to require my energy – and, once my brother heads back to his home across the waters, will require even more.
And so it’s been more than a week since I last laced up and hit the road. I was meant to do a 32 km last Sunday. She died on Saturday afternoon. The 32 km didn’t happen on Sunday. Nor did any running happen on any of the other days following. I know there are runners to take to the road when such things happen but I, quite clearly, am not one of those runners.
I went to a spin class on Monday and on Wednesday. There was something more appealing about sitting on a bike, head down, eyes closed, music drowning out my thoughts and emotions, hidden in the semi-dark of the spin studio, than being out on the road, feeling exposed and vulnerable.
Wednesday evening’s spin class was horrible. The world’s most irritating spin instructor shrieked his way through the whole 45 minutes. I couldn’t understand a word of what he was saying and after five minutes I wanted to walk out. After 15 minutes I thought I was going to weep with frustration – or maybe it was just that weeping was sitting pretty near the surface anyway. But I’m too polite to walk out of someone’s class. So I stuck it out. It is the one time that I felt worse after exercise than before.
Thursday evening, after the memorial service, the Significant Other opened a bottle of Meerlust Rubicon. It seemed appropriate to toast my mother’s life with a good bottle of wine (despite the fact that she hardly drank, and lisped after one drink). I didn’t feel like cooking and didn’t feel like eating out either. So I peeled, sliced and fried up a 2 kg bag of potatoes. Dwarfed by forests of flowers desperately trying to find moisture in that horrid Oasis stuff that they’d been stabbed into to create those ugly arrangements that funeral parlors provide, we sat at the kitchen counter drinking wine and eating batches of hot chips as they came out of the pan. We ate with our fingers from the same plate, sprinkling salt and vinegar and spoke about probably nothing of much consequence at all.
When the Meerlust Rubicon was gone we opened a bottle of Rustenberg. Of course it was a poor idea. And of course it wouldn’t make tomorrow a better day. But fukkit. You don’t bury your mother every day. If I can’t cry tears then surely I can drink wine. We had a glass each of the Rustenberg, corked it and went to bed. There would be no running in the morning.
And yet, despite not having run for a few days, my legs feel as if they have run a marathon. They feel heavy and tired and my feet and muscles ache. I think my body is just weary after weeks of stress.
Last night I sat alone on the cushions on the lounge floor, eating nuts, sipping on the remainder of the Rustenberg and watching The Second Best Marigold Hotel for the umpteenth time.
And then I set my clothes out for this morning. Running must recommence. Saturday is as good a day as any.
I figured I would do 10 km, then figured 5 km, since I had to drop The Kid off at her music lesson. But it was as if I was pushing, heaving, against a deep reluctance.
I had a cup of coffee and some toast and almost changed my mind about going. But I already had my running tights on and yesterday I had bought a new running top to motivate myself to get out there.
And I did. I went out. I ran. And it was shit.
I jogged a slow 3 km. A whole 20 minutes of running. I felt so heavy. Not so much in my body, though. Or maybe it was my body. I don’t know. It was as if I was carrying a heaviness inside of me. It must have been water because some of it started to come out of my eyes. I figured all of the bouncing up and down as I heavily thudded one foot in front of the other was causing the water to slosh about and spill out over the rims of my eyes.
So I switched the Garmin off and walked home. I breathed deeply, inspected the roadside agapanthus, harvested some of their seeds, picked up some plastic bottles and made my way home.
Tomorrow I am meant to run the Kloof Nek Classic. It is 21,1 km of hill and dale. On these legs. I foresee a whole lot of walking.
But it’s time to crank it up. On Monday I have to go and clear my Mom’s cupboards and deal with my father. Or maybe on Tuesday. And life goes on.