What I've learned to hate most about grief is that there's no rhyme or reason. It's ugly. It's painful. And nothing but time takes it away.
Thursday, I was diagnosed with another stress fracture. After months and months of fighting to recover from my accident - first fighting just to sit up, then fighting to walk again, then fighting to do so without crutches, then fighting to run - I was told that I was in the clear. Running was back on the table. I PRed at a half marathon in November. The Boston Marathon, so painfully meaningful to me for so many reasons, was back on the table. But my body had other plans.
There is a crack nestled in my tibia, the bone running up the back of my right calf. It's not as severe as my other injury. And it's on the other leg. This is likely due to overcompensation, to my left leg still struggling to find its strength. But it could also be due to something more sinister, a deficiency, a depleted system, so I will have to undergo rounds of tests while I take the next 6-8 weeks to work on healing my body again.
This time, though, I will also need to work on healing my mind. I woke up on Friday and was, for a moment, afraid that I wouldn't be able to get out of bed. It felt as if someone had placed a 50-pound weight on my chest. I was so sad that I physically hurt, the ache stretching deep down into my chest. I couldn't stop crying. When I looked in the mirror, all I saw was failure. It was as if the work I did since my accident on mindfulness, on admitting my limits, on accepting and loving myself anyway, had vanished.
Somehow, I got up. I showered. I went through the motions of my day. But I teared up on conference calls, and was so exhausted by normal conversation that I drank six cups of coffee by noon.
Yes, it's just a stress fracture. It's just a temporary delay of running. It's just a marathon.
Except it's so much more. Part of my identity is being a runner. It's my saving grace. It's the first athletic thing I've ever truly loved. It's who I am. And it's been taken from me again, the act of lacing up my sneakers wholly out of my control.
The physical is tough. The mental is harder. There is a voice inside of me telling me that I am a disappointment. It's hard for me to wonder how my mother could look at her daughter, who has now failed at Boston twice and, as someone that's run Boston twice, not be ashamed. It's harder to realize that I will have to watch people who didn't experience my family's painful struggles after Boston 2013, didn't experience my own personal, painful 2016, and didn't fight for this as hard as I have, run the marathon while I am once again sidelined.
I promised myself after losing Becky, and breaking my hip, that I would be more vocal about not being okay. If I am proud of anything this time around, it's that once I began to sense that something was wrong in my own body, I shut myself down and I pushed doctors until they agreed to MRI me. (Yes - even with a history of fractures, I had to push for an MRI.) But I am not okay. I wake up in the mornings and don't want to get out of bed. I'm living with a constant undercurrent of a voice inside my head telling me that I am a failure.
The first anniversary of losing Becky is Tuesday. I will be put in a walking boot on Tuesday. I am not okay.
I think the mental battle will be harder this time around. The physical should be easier - this time, I didn't run on the stress fracture for ten miles until it snapped. But the mental part of the injury is daunting. I'm not okay. And I'm afraid.
I really hope that someday I will cross that finish line. I really hope that I'll be able to wrap my arms around my family and tell them that I did it. I did it for me, I did it for them. I did it. But I don't know if I will. I don't know what is next. I don't know how I'm going to continue getting up in the morning, and pushing myself through my day.
I know that I will continue to move forward. It's a bad day, not a bad life, I keep telling myself. I'm not okay. But I will be.