Scatter my ashes here...

Scatter my ashes here...
scatter my ashes in the desert...

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Evolution of a Runner and Thoughts on Life and Death

Monday was solstice and I made a commitment to myself to get moving. So far this week I have been successful. Lifting, doing my abs and core work, my hip strengthening exercises, and running and walking. My neighbor has helped, she's been off work after hand and wrist surgery so she can't do her usual yoga, and we decided to walk while she is unable to do her routine, which helps me get out the door.

It's been cold and I haven't been running a lot, I did an hour on Monday and a little over a half hour each on Tuesday and today. I will try for an hour of running tomorrow even though it's supposed to be super cold. But Christmas and any big holiday have always been my favorite times to run because traffic tends to be light, people tend to be in a decent mood, at least less likely to run you over. I'm sure that will all change on the 26th when the shopping frenzy resumes.

I was thinking a bit about how I've evolved as a runner. For me it has never been a straight line, I have gone back and forth with being competitive and non-competitive, being highly driven and laid back. I love to run and I am thinking about finding some fun adventures to do in the coming year, though they won't be about racing or being competitive. I am ready to explore some trails and places I've been wanting to go but my specialized training for roads and my ankle problems never allowed me to put much effort into it. I have some new running partners who are also on-foot adventurers, and one of them is as much a photo freak as I am, and I find myself looking forward to their company.

Tomorrow is Christmas. We are taking it easy, having one friend over and that's it. I made tortilla soup and I got some stuff for quesadillas, and baked some cookies. After two tries on the cookies I finally did it right. I don't know why but cooking in the kitchen has been disastrous this week, I attribute it to the lack of a kitchen supervisor watching me. Isabelle took over Iris's position, and she was getting good at it. But now it's just me. Cooking is not nearly as much fun without Buffaloes.

We got Isabelle's ashes back last night. Dennis cried as he walked in the house with her, having picked her ashes up on his way home from work. A little turquoise box. It's almost an affront to fourteen years of companionship. But that's the way they do it, and now we have them both back.

It's so strange to receive the remains of your dog, the whole, wiggly, soft, furry, loving, interacting, communicating, responsive creature, in the form of a little cheesy-looking box in baby turquoise blue with a little pawprint charm attached to it, with some fake flowers to top it off. Now Iris and Isabelle are both home for Christmas, sitting together on top of the dresser, next to the hedgehog and bone pillow they each loved.

I remember how Iris and Isabelle used to run and could go forever, running circles around us, covering ten times the distance we did. Then they gradually slowed down, going from running Dennis's pace to my pace, to slower than me, then just walking, and in Isabelle's case, barely walking, until she could only go places being pushed in the cart.

I miss my girls, but I wouldn't have wanted to prolong either of their lives beyond where they both ended. I wouldn't have subjected Iris to being reliant on medications to prevent her from having seizures until she got so bad that she herniated, and I wouldn't have wanted Bella to keep losing her balance, falling, not being able to get up without help, losing bowel and bladder control, and living with the pain in her joints.

I know I'll keep moving as long as I can. I just hope that by the time I am unable to move forward on my own feet, that I or someone will be able to help me end my life when I feel like there's no reason to live. I hope by then we have more progressive laws that allow for that to happen for humans.

Death is a part of life and we're all going to die someday so we might as well accept our mortality and live each day the best that we can. If more people would not avoid thinking about and discussing death, and learn to face it as a normal part of what happens in our lives, and deal with the reality of it, we would be so much better off.

We would live our lives better, take better care of ourselves and each other, spend so much less on medical interventions, and we would finally expand palliative care to be a major part of medicine and health care. Instead of treating people as diseases, we could treat them as people who need help either healing or being made more comfortable.

The days are getting longer, and that means more daylight to enjoy each day. Only one more week until spring. Full speed ahead!

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