I’m back to share some new writing

I have been writing a lot lately, but almost forgot about the existence of this blog. I’ve been writing on the subject of death and dying a lot, as well as reflective and academic pieces for my humane education master’s program. On a run today I remembered that I have not been posting here, and decided I would start up again today.

The following is a creative letter I wrote to a recipient that cannot actually receive letters in the mail, as death has no official address:

Dear Death,

I write you this letter from a place of cautious respect. It is not yet my time to go, but I can assure you I will be ready when it is.

When that time comes, I promise I will not be afraid. Unlike most people within my own culture, I have carefully contemplated and explored my curiosity of you. I have prepared for your visit. I have lived the best life I could while in this body. I made my life my message. Because of this, I will have no reason to be taken aback when I get the definite diagnosis that signals the end.

It may seem that when you come, who I am will cease to exist. The person who I once was, the body I had, will have lost all feeling. That person will be numb forever, never to return in the same exact combination of atoms and carefully configured electrons. I could also be tempted to believe that I could live out infinity in a pure state of nothingness. But that isn’t my style, I know my essence will return to being everything. I will be here, there, and everywhere. I will be present in the rock in which the bear rests his head on for the winter, I will be heard in the sparrow’s call. I will walk across the thoughts of the people in the world as if I were walking on a bridge.

I may return as a ghost, or at least, I will return as the dust particles dancing in the beams of light coming through the bedroom of a young child, who is not unlike myself at that age. The child may think that everyone can see me, but I will know the child is special. She will have a vision unlike no other, and maybe she will go on one day to die with grace and a lack of fear, leaving the world with the memory that she was once alive. Or perhaps she will leave her mark on the world by making it change in an infinitely small yet progressive and positive way before she returns to the microscopic flecks of energy that float in the air.

I have found my voice, my destiny, in speaking to you, befriending you, and teaching others to do the same. That is my way. Collectively, we can no longer deny that you will be coming some day. It is best to be prepared.

Until then, I bid you ado. I look forward to the day when I can frisk about in the forest of the universe with you,

 

With love and respect,

 

Laura

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Running with my thoughts. Again.

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This blog was originally designed to reflect the many ideas and thoughts that came to me while running.

I started running because I had been afraid of doing so since I was a little girl. Running was something I thought I was incapable of doing, but somehow I decided to try it anyways. I started with a couch to 5k program.  I  was more than capable of running. I was doing something I thought I could not do, and I saw myself transformed in more ways than one. Running became a coping mechanism for me. It was one of the few times in my day where I said nice things to myself. Eventually, it became a time to practice self-care and to generate solutions to problems I was thinking about.  From personal problems like relationship issues, ideas for school assignments, solving or helping with social justice and human rights issues, to tackling the purpose of my life, I pondered it all while I ran. But then it all came to an abrupt halt. I had to stop running when I injured my back in Crossfit shortly after running in my first half-marathon in August of 2015. I was in physical therapy from October 2015 to June of 2016. Sometimes I could not even stand up straight or walk without immense pain and stiffness.

Running became a coping mechanism for me. It was one of the few times in my day where I said nice things to myself. Eventually, it became a time to practice self-care and to generate solutions to problems I was thinking about.  From personal problems like relationship issues, ideas for school assignments, solving or helping with social justice and human rights issues, to tackling the purpose of my life, I pondered it all while I ran.

But then it all came to an abrupt halt. I had to stop running when I injured my back in Crossfit shortly after running in my first half-marathon in August of 2015. I was in physical therapy from October 2015 to June of 2016. Sometimes I could not even stand up straight or walk without immense pain and stiffness.

 

During this time period, I graduated college with a Bachelor of Science degree after nearly ten years of working towards that goal. I got accepted into my dream graduate school program, in which I now study Humane Education. I got diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune disease that affects my thyroid. It seems to deplete me of energy, motivation, and I now eat a gluten free (in addition to vegan) diet because of it, which let’s be honest, sucks the joy out of eating sometimes. Without running, which had become the way I processed my emotions, thoughts, and achievements in life, none of these milestones seemed to matter to me.

At some point, I was so frustrated with the lack of running in my life, that I decided to convert this blog to be more general and not focused on my thoughts while running like it had before. I deleted all the posts I had written as a response to my runs. Because I couldn’t run. At first, I enjoyed the new writing that I was doing. It felt like it was helping me process just to write. Then I stopped that too.

I started feeling a little better this Summer with my pain and could run a very small amount. Unfortunately, I had to focus on my body so much that I was not able to focus on my mind at the same time. It was frustrating.

I was starting to realize I had no way to really channel my emotions and thoughts anymore. I felt bottled up.

And then my grandmother died on September 14, 2016.

Earlier, in the Spring when she wasn’t doing so well, I visited her and spent some time with her coloring and talking to her. I told her I loved her even though for some reason I was afraid to say it. She said it back. Then in the Summer she got even worse. It wasn’t a good situation. I was afraid to see her again because I knew that if I did, it would change how I felt about her. I wanted to have a positive memory of her as my goodbye. And then, in September, she suddenly changed again. She was a person who was afraid of a lot of things in life. But suddenly she wasn’t afraid anymore. She wasn’t trying to fight anymore. She was more at peace. We were told she was going to die soon.

Somehow I found myself there, despite my own fears of facing death, by her side, watching her life come to its end, and I did not want to leave.

I realized while I was there, how much my grandmother and I are alike. It is scary to liken myself to her because she had such a hard life. She tragically lost three of her children. She went through a divorce from her mentally unstable husband. And she dealt with this pain in unhealthy ways sometimes that negatively affected our family. Yet she died with an unmistakable sense of peace. Though she had many fears, she never gave up because of them. She persisted. I cannot begin to imagine what it would be like to experience all the pain she endured. But I can imagine that I can keep going through my own fears like she did.

One of the things my mother kept saying to the hospice staff was that my grandmother had told my mom one of her biggest fears was that she would die alone. My mom was going to great lengths to ensure that wouldn’t happen. The hospice nurse seemed to doubt my grandmother was really afraid of dying alone. She told us that people will die the way they want to. She said if a person doesn’t want someone to be there when they die, they will wait until they go to the bathroom, and then die. We were only able to stay with my grandmother during the day time. She died at 2am when we were not there. She conquered the fear of being alone in death. I am so proud of her for that.

I need to be proud of myself for facing my own fears. I have done all kinds of things I’m afraid of. In fact, I am starting to think everything meaningful I have done in my life so far, I have been afraid of.

Here is a small sampling:

I kept living even when I didn’t want to.

I sang in public in a band that had formed three days prior.

I spoke publicly about my struggles in life.

I graduated college.

I drove nearly 6 hours, by myself (I hate driving), to my graduate school residency in Maine. I even swam far out into the ocean while there, even though I tell myself I am afraid of swimming in open water.

I taught myself to run. And even though it’s a pain to start over from scratch again, I’m doing it.

The past few months have been really hard on me. I haven’t been able to tell people how I really feel. I’m afraid that if I start talking about the pain I’m in I won’t be able to stop, and it will be unfair to them. I’ve been wondering about the lessons I should be learning from my grandmother’s passing a lot. I feel like I am unable to move forward, weighed down by despair. I feel like a failure for not picking up where I left off before she died. But my life seems different now.

For the past 4 weeks or so, I’ve been forcing myself to go out and do another couch to 5k program. I’m smack dab in the middle of the program, and it really sucks physically. Today I was afraid that I could not do the whole workout as described.

But all of a sudden the British voice recording that is on the app told me I was ready to cool down. I had not given up on the entire workout. I did it. And not only had I not given up on the physical aspect of the run, but I ended my workout with this blog entry in my head.