My aunt was one of the most important people in my life. Growing up, she was always there when we needed her. She always did so much for us. She was a friend and a mother figure to me. She was easy to approach when I needed to talk to someone but also told it like it was. My aunt passed away two weeks ago. She was 59 years old. Her name was Miriam.
Miriam always put others before herself. She always made sure we had the best. When I got married and had kids, Miriam was always there to take care of my kids whenever we needed her. She would drop whatever she was doing and pick them up from school if we were in a pinch. She was so proud of all the weight I had lost but wasn’t overly concerned about her own lifestyle.
She had many hospital visits throughout the past 4 years. She’d go in for a couple days and come out just fine. We thought this would be no different. She went into the hospital on December 23. I made it to the hospital the day after Christmas. I gave her her Christmas gift. Over the next few weeks, I made it to the hospital every two days or so. January 6 was the very last time I got to talk to her. She was in ICU and was having trouble breathing, I encouraged her to be positive and that she would get out soon. I told her I loved her and I left. I got a call that night that they had to intubate her, she passed the next day
My aunt not being on this earth has left a hole in this family. Things aren’t quite right and I’m not sure they’ll ever be. I do know one thing, though, I know she wants us to carry on. We had a celebration of her life last Saturday. I was scheduled to run the Louisiana Marathon on the next day. All week I had been unsure if I’d even be able to make it.
I managed to switch my flight so I could leave right after the funeral. Having had such a heavy heart all week long, her funeral service brought closure. After two airplane rides, I made it to Lafayette, Louisiana. Some friends were able to pick me up at the airport and we headed back to their house for some amazing plantbased food. Then it was time to retire to Jason’s Airstream for the night.
The next day was filled with a lot of emotion. The day started out at about 25 degrees. The start line was electric. There were 20+ Missing Chins running that day. The run started well. I kept a 10 minute pace for the first 10 miles. The pace slowly went up as the miles passed but it didn’t matter too much to me. I was there to have fun and I hadn’t had a training run over 13 miles in a long time. Once I hit mile 20, that’s when I slowed significantly. By mile 24 and 25, I was in a good bit of pain. The pain coupled with my aunt’s passing got to me at that point. I became very emotional for those two miles. Once I got close to the finish line, Gary (another Missing Chin) came up and ran with me for the last three quarters of a mile. He helped snap me out of that race low.
I finished the race in 5 hours and 24 minutes. While I wanted to run it faster, I’m not upset about that performance. My goal was to finish and I did. That goal was much more important because I felt like I needed to finish the race for my aunt. She was always so proud of my accomplishments and I was not about to let her down. I often hear how the death of a family member can derail our routines, whether it be diet, exercise, lifestyle, etc. I know that my aunt does not want me, or anyone else in my family, to skip a beat. She wouldn’t want us to eat our feelings away. She wouldn’t want us to lay around mourning her in a depressed state. She wants us to carry on and live our lives. I want to live my life in a way that would make her and the rest of my family proud. That’s the best way to honor the memory of our deceased loved ones.