This week I was faced with something I have never had to deal with before. Someone close to me is dying, and it will be any day now. For the last 72 hours I’ve been through a roller coaster of emotions: surprise, grief, anger. I was truly shocked by the surprise part. I honestly thought that I wouldn’t be upset when my grandmother passed. She has had an amazing life and has been in hospice care for quite awhile, so I believed I would be prepared and composed when the news came. The amount of grief that washed over me when my uncle called was completely unexpected. The transformation from physical being to spirit is something that I have never had to deal with on a personal level. I have seen others deal and not truly been able to empathize. I always thought that I would be able to deal with death practically. Perhaps people do move on to “a better place,” but it doesn’t make it hurt any less.
A few weeks ago I went to Bend, Oregon for my best friend Alice’s bachelorette weekend. There were eight ladies that drove down, rented a house, and had a whole lot of fun for three days. One of those ladies is my friend Chrissy. She is a firm believer of fate, kismet, destiny, whatever you want to call it, especially when it comes to love. (Her belief served her well—she found her partner in an extremely serendipitous way!) Very often when we find ourselves in a car together she will shuffle her CD player and declare that the next song will illustrate what her night will be like. (When she was single, it illustrated what kind of man she would meet that night!)
We were walking around the adorable downtown of Bend, which has a plethora of gift shops and stores for all types of interests, when we decided to pop into a store that had, among many other things, bowls and baskets containing runes. Runes are used for many reasons, but in this era I’ve seen them mostly in new-age stores, put out for wandering customers to choose and see what the message of the day is. Sometimes people focus on a particular question, and other times they just let the spirit guide them. Generally runes are small coin-sized objects made of stone, wood, or some other natural material, with engraved pictures or words on them. The moment Chrissy saw them her eyes lit up and she gathered us around so we could each take one. She closed her eyes, paused for a moment, and said, “This word represents what I need to focus on right now.” She placed her hand in the basket and pulled out one rune. It read “courage.” She smiled and urged me to pull one out for myself.
“This word will represent my focus for the next month!” I closed my eyes, took a moment to concentrate on the words I had spoken, and touched the runes. The one that seemed to jump out at me I grabbed.
Change. That certainly was encouraging. Consistently in my life I have been fearful of change. However this year I have been actively trying to be a proponent of it. For example, I took up running, something I swore to the high heavens I would never do. In the past, running seemed like the most excruciating and pointless thing someone could do for exercise. I love to dance, hike, and sometimes even lift weights for exercise, but I could not wrap my mind around enjoying something that makes my entire body jiggle while doing it. Ugh! Plus, as my friends can attest, I am a quintessential Turtle. I might make it to the end, but I’ll be slower than molasses on the ride. I would make it into the World Book of Records as the slowest runner EVER. For some insane reason, I signed up to do a holiday 5k run last December. If I recall correctly, I just wanted to dress up like a reindeer and meet lots of neat people (see: men). All my friends were doing it; I didn’t want to be left behind! After the run I was hooked. It was exhilarating! I couldn’t even run the whole thing, but the part I did do was fantastic!
After the bachelorette weekend I took the word CHANGE and ran with it (Literally!). I made a plan to eliminate bad habits, start a serious blog, and authentically reach for the goals that had been on the periphery for too long. Then, the news about my grandmother hit me like a ton of bricks. I was in a fog for days. Those days were terrible, but they also made me reevaluate some things. My sadness over this huge change reminded me that change is always going to be there, and what I do with it is my choice. I took a moment yesterday to consider how proud my grandmother was of my running. It made me want to break out my running shoes right then and put a couple miles under my belt. I also reflected on what I knew about her life. She was truly an accomplished woman. If I turn out to be half the woman she was, it would be amazing.
It’s not like the light bulb has gone on over my head and there is cheery music now playing in the background, but I think that every situation has meaning, and we can all take a message from it. And if that makes us feel a little less pain, then I welcome it.