Cycle for Survival Alabama edition

So this past Saturday, January 28th, I organized the first Cycle for Survival in Alabama at the gym I teach spin at, Metro Fitness. It was successful and I was super pleased with the turn out of support!

I’m not going to go into detail about the event, but I want to discuss the importance of Cycle for Survival to me.

Cycle for Survival gives me so much hope, excitement, strength and focus. I truly believe in what they are doing for the developments in treating rare cancers, and I also like love the feeling it provides me leading up to the event and after. It gives me goosebumps knowing that in a day, so many people around the country are also supporting and raising awareness and funds for rare cancer research. It also gives me time to reflect and think about all the lessons, joys, and triumphs I shared with George. He too loved participating in Cycle for Survival. So when I’m on the bike, I feel connected with him, and on the days of Cycle for Survival, I feel like I am working for him. I am pedaling stronger than I ever had before, because I want to make him proud.

This year in Alabama, I didn’t have my closest friends around for support, I didn’t have my family nearby, but I did have a community there. I really appreciate the generosity of the people in Montgomery and beyond. Without their support this wouldn’t have been as successful as it was. We have neared the $3,000 mark and it’s a fantastic feeling to know that this money will go towards saving someone’s life and making a difference.

Each year around this time, I make new memories with George and it helps propel me forward. Allows me to feel stronger and I know the money raised is going toward something meaningful and will offer strength to others battling cancers.

I love Cycle for Survival.

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Happy 3 year anniversary

Today would’ve been three years married to George. A undercurrent of sadness lingered around all day. I cried on my way to work, cried in my office and then cried on my way home. I taught spin class tonight and sitting astride the bike I felt so happy for having the opportunity to feel so much love. I just feel his presence whenever I’m riding. I can’t explain it. It’s just there. A calmness takes over and I feel it in my muscle fibers and it burrows deep into my bones. He loved biking and when my legs go round and round, I know I’m doing something I was programmed to do. I’m making memories with him still when I’m on a bike, indoor or outdoor.

This was my first anniversary where I’ve spent it pretty alone. The first one I was at Times Square cycle for survival and then went to sacred heart’s alumni game. Last year I spent the second anniversary out on the town with my boyfriend. And this year, went to work. Nothing eventful. And I’m happy I did nothing. I felt like I could really sit down and reflect. Think about George and how much I miss him. Think about the day we got married, how exciting and emotional it was. Seeing all the interesting people at the Manhattan court house. This life I’ve been living without him and how different it is. Wonder what it would be like if he was still alive. I allowed my brain to wander. It was peaceful, and I’m glad for once I didn’t try to distract myself from the chaos.

life moves forward, and so have I.

I love you George. And I always will.

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Buckeye in my purse

On Friday I got dolled up and headed out. I grabbed a purse that I don’t use tremendously often but I did year ago when I first got it. My sister gifted me a George Gina and Lucy purse in 2009 and I remember being so excited for it. I would carry that thing everywhere. George would comment about how it’s in my favorite color purple.

Before I headed out, I checked all the pockets to see if there’s any old receipts or trash. There were some old coffee and metro receipts, and I think one movie ticket. But then I dug deeper into the front pocket and pulled out a buckeye. Hard little round nugget with a darkened slit that looks like an eye. I remember walking past Rockefellars grave in the Cleveland cemetery and George picking up the buckeye. He handed it to me, grinning, and reminding me how the nut looks like a bucks eye. I dropped it in my purse to remember our trip to his hometown of Bay Village, just outside Cleveland.

Today I found a towel I used when we lived together in Jersey City. I pushed my face into it and it smelled like George. His scent stung in my nostrils and my heart swelled. But then it cracked like a glass in boiling water. It was too much.

 

Happy Birthday George

Today is George’s birthday. I’m feeling his absence a lot today. There’s this hollowness inside me I can’t fill. It’s almost like his death is very real today, which is odd because I know he’s not coming back. But I can’t explain it. I feel very off and sad. This morning I watched a video we had made when we used to blog, and it made me so happy to hear his voice, and see him smile. But then it’s gone. I have to search for it if I want to hear it. I allowed my mind to float back in time to when we grabbed a cab to his birthday party in K-town. We had just started dating and it was carefree, wonderful, and fleeting. I was embarrassed by the age difference, but I couldn’t get enough of him. I miss his sense of humor, I miss his lightheartedness, I miss his laughter, I miss his sense of calmness through all the chaos. I miss him so much. But I’m so thankful I got to be with him.image

Biking to what I know

Tomorrow I’m packing up my things, grabbing my dog and I’m heading home. As much as I’m moving along, I need to get out of here. With my season ending, my daily routine has been jolted because there is no more practices, game preparation, and scouting. On top of that having to deal with the dissolved relationship and now figuring out how to deal with these gaping holes between events,  I concluded the ultimate resolution is I need to leave. So I’m gone. Give myself some mental health days to regroup and surround myself around old friends, former teammates and of course my wonderful parents.

As the days continue to fall forward, I am so grateful for the community around me in Montgomery. This morning I taught my Wednesday morning spin class, and when I first started teaching at Metro I only had 3 people in class. Now I consistently have 10 people, and they are incredibly caring, sweet and jovial. One of the riders texted me after class saying how much they enjoy my class and my energy and enthusiasm, and I started crying when I read it. I’ve found so much salvation and peace of mind when I’m astride a spin bike. I try to put out to everyone how much I love being there with them and sharing the power of fitness and how it can transform you in more ways than just your body.

I started cycling because George loved it so much and it was just one of the slices that made him who he was. He’d pump the tires on his bike before going to sleep so he could bike to work in the mornings. He tried so desperately to get me into biking that he would encourage me to bike to Penn Station before catching the train to Madison, NJ. When I was away, him and his best friends would ride around NYC finding the best restaurants, hitting up Broadway shows or concerts. He loaned his road bike out to his friend, just so someone else could enjoy biking as much as he did. When he was in Atlanta he founded the Atlanta Biking Group. When I’m on a bike- outdoor or indoor- I feel like it connects me to him. So it’s not a surprise I’m falling back on the power of cycling. It helped me throughout the initial grieving process, and in this recent bout of grief it’s supporting me again.

I feel this grief is solely brought on by the sudden changes. I was afraid to fully commit to having to deal with myself just by myself. I don’t have my team to commit myself to, but I do have my program, which I’ve been focusing in on. I’ve been doing clinics, setting up my summer schedule, finding camps to go to. Marketing and promoting Huntingdon Lacrosse. But I can’t help but feel disconnected, and I’m hoping this trip home will allow me to resolve and allow the wound to scab back over.

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Why I write

Photo 119George and I had a food blog. We used to poodle around NYC looking for the best of the best, good deals, good vegan options, busts, and of course home recipes. It was a hobby with both enjoyed and a way we bonded. Blogging was a staple in our relationship and writing was the foundation of it. We met in a creative writing master’s program. So I write because I desire to find the words to redevelop and unlock the memories I had with him which serves as a means for me to feel connected and work through losing him. My posts aren’t as frequent now as they were in the early months, but my grief and feeling of loss isn’t as prevalent.

My method of operation to combat grief first was with writing, and then fitness. Now I pretty much have the fluctuating emotions in check. Beginning of the new year it was rearing its ugly head, but again the power of words helped me sort through it. The phrase time heals all wounds is accurate. But it’s naive to think I’m the same person I was 2 years ago. I was active in changing my spirit and mind by changing my body too. Early on my thoughts would drift to those moments when George was gaunt and jaundiced. His cheeks sunk inward, and his lips chapped from the medicine and the blue in his eyes popped because of the yellowish tint where it should’ve been white. But even when that was happening he still told jokes, he still made me laugh, he expressed so much love to everyone around him. And because of his joy of life it made me feel guilty that I was crippled by his absence. I knew if I was sad he would be devastated, so I worked on bettering myself from within. Finding reason to get out of bed. And luckily I had a responsibility of coaching my lacrosse team and running a program, but even more simplistic than that, I had a sweet little man I needed to care for.

Bodie grieved along with me. He would cry behind doors, snuggled close to George’s pillow, and just occupy his side of the bed. Those nights he hopped off the bed and whine just on the other side of the door tore me up inside. One time he did it at 430a and I called my mom because it was so sad. But together we changed and those dark memories became better. I remember the times George would play the guitar and make songs about Bodie and his love of his blue ball. Those times we walked through Prospect Park to the doggy beach and met other terriers for Bo to play with and then ignore just seconds later. I don’t remember the days he was dying as clearly, and it’s a blessing.

Writing allowed me to remember the good times, sort through my sorrow, find meaning in the memories, and bridge my old life to the one I continue to build now.

 

Another half marathon

On Saturday I ran in another half marathon. We don’t have Equinox gyms down in Montgomery so I used the Montgomery Marathon as my tool to raise money for Cycle for Survival. Obviously I wasn’t cycling, but I feel strongly about raising money for rare cancer research. And I love cycle for survival and how they use the money raised. Running 13 miles is not an easy task and whenever I’m running I think about all the people who no longer can run or be active because of cancer. And being active and controlling the effort level of what you put in while you still can is really a gift. So I do these races and when my legs are cramping and my sides are hurting and my mind wants me to stop, I keep pushing because I know if George was still alive he would keep fighting. And when he was alive he kept pushing and believing in everything his doctors were doing for him. So I do too. I want to push myself to the breaking point because he did.

People lose their limbs or ability to walk because of cancer. Or they’re hooked up to a drip for days and fighting for their lives. For that moment to go outside and live life the way they dreamed. So I run for those people. I run, cycle and raise money yearly because I believe the doctors at Memorial Sloan Kettering are the front line of battle to cure rare cancers. If I can help just one family, it’s worth it.

Ive been dating Mike now for 7 months and this was my second half marathon while we’ve been together. He’s very supportive of my excessive cardio habits, and reminds me he will never do a race with me and though I wish one day maybe, he makes me feel special about it. I do think being in the south, the focus on physical fitness isn’t like what it is in NYC, but he’s very complimentary of when I do distances over 5 miles. He’s also very athletic and I do like being with someone who takes care of themselves physically. I never realized how important that aspect is in my happiness in a relationship. But having it there I don’t want to be without it.

My legs are very sore today but for all it’s worth, the only thing I would change is I should’ve trained a bit better, but I’m proud I completed another half.

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Got you on my mind

imageIm not sure what it is, but I cannot stop thinking about George. I miss him so much. And damn Facebook keeps showing me memories from years ago, and it’s like everyday I’m reminded he’s dead.

I was at work the other day and was looking up stats from last season and I ran into an article written about me when I took the job. I felt like I was reading about someone else’s life. I was so disassociated from reality at that moment, and the words read like fiction to me. I’ve been spending a lot of time registering what’s going on around me, and I feel distant. Like someone picked me up and dropped me in the middle of Alabama and said “here make a life for yourself.” And I’m kind of trying. I miss my family a lot too. I miss my friends. I miss my old life.

My grandmother was widowed in her late 50’s, and she would be considered a young widow too. My family has said her life ended the minute my grandfather passed. After he passed she traveled around the world. But then settled down in Florida where she still lives. Even though it’s been 31 years since he’s passed, she talks about him like he was here yesterday. It’s been a little over 2 years without George, and it feels like an eternity ago since he was alive, but at the same time I feel like it was just yesterday we were still together. I  feel like I take two steps forward and then 10 backwards.

i don’t know if I feel sorry for myself, or why this sudden strike of longing is coming up, but it’s affecting me. It’s affecting how I feel, how I react, my decisions, and of course my mood. I feel more independent than I ever have before, but I feel the numbness slowly crawling back. Lean into it, allow the grief to come, and I do. It’s the hopelessness and numbness that scares me. It comes on so strong, and it swaddles me and it controls me. I stop caring about myself. I know it’s knocking, I feel the clunking footsteps following behind me. I need to be different.

 

Technology is distracting

Im not sure if I’ve mentioned this in previous posts, but I thought I would revisit the days after George came home and told me he was dying. Not conversation a 27 year old is prepared for, nor was I able to process the information adequately as my mom tends to bring up til this day.

when George sat me down and told me he wasn’t getting better and he was going to die, he mentioned to me I can go see a therapist about him dying. A death therapist you could call it. He had been visiting her weekly since he was diagnosed with cancer and reassured me she was helpful. I brushed it off and said I didn’t need to go. I told him she wouldn’t have been of help to me. To this day I cannot confirm nor deny if my life would be better only if I visited her.

Some nights when George would come home from the city, we would have dinner together at home and just hang out. Usually my legs would be crossed over his lap and I would be tapping away at a game on my iPad. He would bring up his cancer and I would just shrug it off and keep playing pointless games on my iPad. At one point he told me I was using the games as distraction because I was in denial and of course I denied such an absurd accusation. I now see that I was using it as a scapegoat because I was in denial.

ive been noticing lately I’m sliding back into that trend. When the going gets tough I bury my head into my iPhone. Clicking through apps, checking emails, basically avoiding the issue in front of me. Tonight I was at Mike’s apartment and I started to do that, and he even told me to put my phone down and It made me remember those nights with George I wish I could have back. Nights I wish I could hold his hand rather than tap tap away.

Nothing gold can stay, and I learned that the hardest way possible. I love a distraction, but enjoying the time and moments right now are crucial, because in a flash everything can change. I just needed to remind myself about what’s important at and what is just an illusion. image

Off on Tuesdays

When George was receiving treatments he would go to the hospital and then come home. In his final months, I took Tuesday’s off too. The idea of taking Tuesday’s off has lingered. I do work on Tuesdays but I tend to use Tuesday’s as a rest day. I don’t know why this has held on, but for some reason I just go with it.

When Tuesday’s would roll around George and I would get brunch and then head into the city. Sometimes he had early appointments and I would hop on the path train and meet him for lunch. I remember how peaceful it was to be hand in hand with him. Walking around NYC or Jersey City. I miss those Tuesday’s. I miss him. I have a love/hate with my current affairs. I wish he was around to share my life with, but I wouldn’t be here if he was still around. I wouldn’t be having this experience at Huntingdon or in Alabama if he was still alive. The platitude of everything happens for a reason is so hackneyed, but I’ve done all right for myself all things considered. I’ve done better than all right, I’m thriving. But those thoughts of what if still haunt me. I think they always will. And they pop up frequently whenever I have this cloud of melancholy hovering.