“It’s no-thing,” she said. “Daniel, I’m your mo-ther.”
Another year of physical therapy, pills, and acupuncture passed. One chilly March evening, I took NJ Transit to the house at Mom’s request. She calmly explained that a recent brain scan stemming from an acoustic neuroma had revealed an “incidental finding.”
Just over two years later, on June 14, 2021, Mom’s intermittent wheezing contrasted with Carole King’s “Tapestry.” In those final moments, I clasped her bloated right hand with mine – but couldn’t really “feel” her when she died. The lingering effects of the crash still robbed me of sensation.
How does one accept long-term pain — physical and emotional? It’s a question I continue to struggle with.
What I know is: life hurts. It hurts even more when you’re blitzing through 26.2 miles as quickly as possible. I have completed the New York City Marathon every year since 2017, including via a “virtual” option during 2020; to claim I “ran” last year’s race, when I was 30 pounds overweight and grieving, is like saying a chicken soared through the air.
Yet ahead of each four hour-plus act of masochism, I find myself compelled to write, to try to articulate how the marathon represents the journey all of us are on. The marathon is often unpredictable and painful despite the utmost preparation — much like life in New York — yet it still rewards resilience just as the billboard I’m featured in celebrates New Yorkers by encouraging them to “Stay Amazing.”
Writing, running, involving myself in photo shoots, volunteering and fundraising for causes like Families for Safe Streets or the National Brain Tumor Society – they’re all methods, some more helpful than others, of dealing with loss. By rewriting and expanding the story each year, often touching on previous themes but with an increasingly refined perspective, I am able to acknowledge and contextualize this newest version of reality. That is the first, most crucial step when it comes to confronting, managing, and minimizing pain.