Sunday, July 7, 2013

One year later....

I run to escape.

I use to think I should run for a cause; for people who couldn't run; for a healthy lifestyle; for the chance to motivate others to run. Superficially, I run so I can eat more, get "free" shirts at races with my running buddies and wear sweet colored shoes that cost more than any other pair of shoes I own.

Running Buddies
We like to color coordinate :)

Selfishly, I admit though. Over the last year, I realized I run for me.

Sure it's awesome if my family comes to watch a race with their signs saying "My mommy runs faster than yours". I always look forward to seeing old friends and making news ones while warming up for a 5K. And keeping those people who can't run in my heart while I run, sure motivates me during those days my shoes feel like dead weight. But let's be real here - I am not this crazy runner who averages 50 miles a week....we're talking 10-15 on a good week. There are no 20 mile weekend runs for fun on my calendar. The reality is....I won't ever be a spokesperson for the running industry because I basically put on shoes that the local running store suggested, hit my running app and let the Pandora stations fill my head.  No funky gadgets, no concept on pacing, no in depth knowledge besides putting one foot in front of the other. Yet, for 20 to 60+ minutes or more, I escape....

One year ago tomorrow my Aunt Casee passed away.

I miss her.

A colleague told me that when life gets all shook up, it should be my goal to work hard and get back to neutral. It is in those moments of time you'll learn how to make your neutral even better than before - that you will come out with scrapes and bruises but your perspective will be so much greater and your appreciation deeper.

Having someone close die shakes your world. Yet, I believe in death and God and that there is Heaven - so her actual death didn't shake my world.....her not being in my life anymore did. I didn't have a sounding board anymore, I had to find a new one or two. My personal fan club lost its president and since she knew more than anyone that life revolved around me, it clearly impacted my spirit (LOL). Her absence at so many activities seemed awkward, even though everyone has tried so hard not to make it that way. And I'm sure for the rest of my life, when her name is mentioned my heart will drop a little.

So this past fall as I tried to get back to neutral, I struggled. Life became a complicated, stressful mess- like life can be sometimes. So what does Katie do when her plate is already full and stressed to the max.....ohhhh she adds ones more thing to the table.... So I figured why not run a marathon??!

I needed to do this though - to regain some sort of control. After eight years of marriage, two kids, and switching jobs; I lost myself along the way. I had gotten so use to everyone around me just always being there and going along with what they said or suggested I forgot I had my own opinion. I forgot how to challenge thoughts, confidently offer my opinions and aggressively seek what I wanted no matter the objections.

During the 16 week training - while I enjoyed beautiful winter runs, catching up on my favorite shows on the treadmill, watching flowers bloom on spring days and fitting my miles in no matter the arrangement of my schedule - I would drift away from everything and daydream. Sort out reality. Brainstorm a new approach. Think of how life would be this way or that.


And when I came up on mile 24 of the marathon, "Don't You Worry Child" by Swedish Heart Mafia came across my earphones. I just became completely overwhelmed with that moment I felt Casee - like she was running beside me...part of me laughed actually because she never understood why anyone would run unless they were being chased or for ice cream LOL.....but I knew she was there, and as clique as it sounds, it was if she kept her promise of being my fan club president and was cheering me on. Not just to finish the marathon, but to cheer me on to keep moving in this new neutral I had found. It's awkward, complicated, ambitious, challenging, lively....but best of all it's me.

The boys and I at the finish line of the Bayshore Marathon.
Accomplished my goal of under Four Hours -3:51.43.

So tomorrow, I'm not going to dwell on what happened a year ago. I'm not going to be sad that she's gone. ....I'm going to lace up my shoes, embrace my new neutral and escape.... dream about what it will be like when I see her again in Heaven.


Special hugs and thoughts to everyone thinking about Casee today, tomorrow and everyday. Over the last year, our family has heard so many wonderful stories about how she impacted so many and how she continues to impact those who are faced with difficult situations. You are amazing and appreciated.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Aunt Casee's Headstone Unveiling

This past Sunday, as a family we saw Aunt Casee's headstone for the first time. When Uncle Tim asked me to prepare something to say, my heart fell.....I was honored, but you just try to stay busy and not think about how much you miss someone, when they're gone...and since we never went to the cemetery at her funeral, I've never connected her there.....until Sunday and that's just a place - for now - that I refuse to associate her with...nevertheless, reality is she's gone physically. Yet as my family stood together, I couldn't think of a better place for all us to be together honoring her as we saw her beautiful headstone. 

After myself, Uncle Tim and my cousin Wyatt said some words, we let balloons go, like we did at her funeral. My son Gunner has always looked at my Facebok cover photo and asked  how the balloons got in the sky and why he didn't get to send a balloon to Aunt Casee. So I was thankful we did this again at her headstone unveiling from age two to my Grandpa's age -  we sent them as a family.

I have always loved this phrase...
and what an amazing reminder when the boys come visit.

What I shared on Sunday....

The last six months I feel like I've been in a fog - trying to figure out this idea of a new normal without Aunt Casee. I've found myself questioning why her - why did she have to go through all of that and leave us, what I feel was way too soon. I've sat in my car and cried wishing to talk to her one more time to help me process a difficult situation. My heart has ached when I couldn't celebrate something awesome with her. And yet at the most unpredictable times, a song has come on the radio. Someone has said something out of the blue that just makes me know she had a part of it. There's these little moments that I hear her voice and just feel peace. And I hope we all feel more and more of those reminders as we start finding our new normal.

What I have been shown over the last six months is that God is in charge and we totally have no say in the plans He has. Which sounds like we have a conceited God that only thinks of Himself, but I believe we have a God that knows far more than we could fathom and we have to trust Him in His plans.

Just doesn't seem like long enough.
Though His plan for Casee was not what our's would have been, I trust His plan to have her in our lives, as brief as we think it was, was perfectly thought out  Planned to show us how strong we are as individuals, but even stronger as a family. I know that as we get busy with our crazy day to day lives, her spirit will nudge us to send a text, write a card or stop in to just say hi. Her willingness to help others will inspire us to help others more. Her competitive drive will keep us fighting no matter what we come against.

So I think we will be okay. Actually I know we will be okay. Because I can hear Aunt Casee saying...."We were never normal people... why should we start trying to find normal now?"

From my all time favorite movie, Hope Floats - "beginnings are scary, endings are usually sad, but it's the middle that counts the most. Try to remember that when you find yourself at a new beginning. Just give hope a chance to float up. And it will... "