Well, it's been a while. Last week I saw a death notice in the paper for Judy's (van person) husband. I knew he had emphysema and was pretty compromised. Judy had her last radiation the day after I did, and a few days later her death notice appeared as well. I wasn't shocked that she died; she certainly had no illusions about her chances. I was shocked that she died so quickly. I am sad that she spent half of the days of her last three weeks riding the f-ing van instead of doing something else. Every day I have been looking for a notice about a service for her, but I haven't seen anything. Her daughter is my age, and has just lost both her parents in the space of a week. Judy seemed to have a lot of organizing she was trying to do, for her daughter and her husband, and her time of doing that, which ostensibly the radiation was supposed to prolong, was cut short.
I know that many people all over the world live daily with the fear and the reality of the horrific scene in Boston this week, its anticipation, its occurence, its aftermath. But I have never been in a war zone. I have, however, been at a marathon finish, and so my feelings about it spring from there. In 2009 I ran a marathon. The last several miles felt a lot like labor and childbirth. It was painful, disorienting, and strangely ecstatic all at the same time. When I finished and stopped running I started crying. What my body and my brain were doing at that point were completely out of my hands. After about 20 miles of exertion, a body has used up all of its store of calories, no matter what you put into it along the way, and the disorientation during those last miles is a biproduct of this physiological process. It is, of course known as The Wall. What was immediately so sad, among so many other things, on Monday was the timing of the explosions. The elite athletes were long finished, and at a little over four hours after the start, the majority of amateur runners (like me, though not like me, as in Boston you have to qualify with a time, which in my wildest dreams I never will) would be approaching the finish, with families and friends waiting. It seems clear that somehow the young men that set up the scene must have known that four to four and a half hours would net them the most people possible. Did they also know about the state of the runners coming in? The disoriented, confused joy? The subsequent stiffening chill that the space blankets take the edge off of, but not the deep interior? I wonder if the chill will ever leave those runners and their families.
Meanwhile, back in our little outpost at the other edge of the country, I am feeling pretty back to normal physically. Ramping up swims and runs, while my radiation burns fade away. Mentally it is a different story. I stand in front of that clean slate to which I have referred many times and prepare to start something brand new. More on that later.