30 years ago today, I went to bed not knowing that tomorrow my life would be changed forever. I went to bed not knowing that tomorrow, I would hear my mothers voice for the last time. I went to bed not knowing that I would one day look back 30 years later with a fire in my heart, a passion in my soul and a history that has strengthened my own motivation to live my life in such a way that I do not repeat the history that has plagued much of my own adult life. When you are 15 years old, you aren’t thinking about tomorrow. At least I don’t think I was….
30 years ago today, I went to bed not knowing that 30 years later, I would be preparing to run a ½ marathon in my mother’s honor for the second time…but this one is different.
Tomorrow will mark 30 years I have lived without my mother. But realistically, she was gone long before that. I know that my mom was an incredible woman; she was smart, funny, passionate and caring. But I don’t remember any of that. I have vague memories of her true self. My mom seemed sad most of the time and she often seemed as though she wished she was somewhere else. That is at least what I remember. Until my mother passed away, I always felt as though I was a burden. I never understood why my mom cried so much and I didn’t understand why she drank as much as she did. Even once she was sick, she continued to drink. No one ever said anything…until it was too late. I didn’t know that it was too late until the day she died, but her illness was so far along by that point, there wasn’t anything anyone could have done. My mom was a Nurse, she knew what was happening to her. I’ve often wondered, was she crying because she knew that she was dying? Was she crying simply because she was sad? What made her sad? Was it me? These questions have weighed on me for a very long time. I have had a lot of time to process everything and I have worked extremely hard to cope with the memories and traumas I hold within my heart. I know I am ok. I know I am healthy and strong and I know that the burdens that weighed on my mother are not the burdens that weigh on my own heart.
When you are motherless as long as I have been, there is a void that you spend your entire life trying to fill. It took me a long time to learn that this is “normal” for someone who has experienced such a loss so young. It also took a lot of work to understand the emotion behind the complexities of how she died. Back then, no one talked about it, but through my own education and life experiences, it would be naïve to think that my mother didn’t struggle with depression. It wasn’t something that people talked about back then. Today, as uncomfortable as it is, I talk about it. I learn about it. Today’s society has unfortunately seen entirely too many suffer in silence and the reality is, life is hard. We need to support each other, not pass judgement. I am sure my mother felt judged back then. She suffered in silence until it was too late.
Tomorrow’s Half Marathon is very significant to me. The date, the location and the year! While I have run many half marathons in the last 15 years, this one is different. Tomorrow, I will run through a Vineyard, and at the end of this race, I will be presented a complimentary wine glass and if I choose, a glass of wine. Many of my friends would consider this a very appropriate race for me…I enjoy my wine, and what better way to celebrate such an accomplishment right? Well, anyone who knows me, also knows that while I enjoy a glass of wine, I always keep myself in check. My friends and family know that I have a very complicated relationship with Alcohol. Not because I am concerned that I am an Alcoholic, but because I have the potential to become one. We all do. I just have more risk factors given my family history. Something that I am fully aware of. I look at this race as a milestone and an opportunity to be able to show my own child that I am healthy, strong and have been in and will always be in control of my habits. I will complete this race to show him that you can work hard for a goal, accomplish it and celebrate and not lose self-control while doing so. My son will never see his mother the way I saw mine. My son will see his mommy is strong and passionate and full of a joy that she fights for every day and while life can be hard, every challenge is worth embracing.
If you would have told me 30 years ago I would be sitting here getting ready to run 13.1 miles, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. Anyone who knew me 30 years ago would probably agree….
So tomorrow, I will run for my Mother, Sandra Lee Conreur. I will run for my son and my husband and I will run for my family and friends who have been supporting me along this journey. I will run for the Motherless Daughters, especially my 5G sisters who continue to give me the strength near and far…and tomorrow, I will run for me.