It’s fitting that I’m re-reading Anne of Green Gables right now because I’m having the kind of spring for which Anne would have strings of words and metaphors.
My day started with all of us and the dog in the car driving an unfamiliar road lined by a new-to-us mountain scape, slightly taller and pointier than our familiar friends. The sun reflected rainbows of buds and baby leaves off the hills. I was on my way to start my own half marathon since my usual Mother’s Day race had, of course, been cancelled in the name of physical distancing. Andy and the girls, who were still in their PJs, dropped me off in the parking lot at the far end of our local bike trail. I would see them next as I ran past our house a third of the way through the 13.1 miles.
My run started well enough with sun streaming through the hints of leaves, wildflowers peeking through young shoots, and yellow warblers, blue jays, and chickadees warning each other of my arrival. The miles ticked by. As is necessary for a long slow run I was lost (like Anne Shirley) in my own reverie when suddenly the wooden fence to the side of me filled my vision, then all I saw was dirt, and then BAM! I had tripped and hit the ground hard (like Anne?!) Stunned, I sat on the path facing backwards, my hands and left knee throbbing. I texted Andy. No answer. I called him as I tried to stand up; I was able to bear weight. My voice shaking, I declined a ride home and hobbled the mile to our house. The sorry distance that I had covered before the fall, 3.68 miles, taunted me from my watch face. A mantra circulated through my thoughts: DNF. Did not finish. DNF. Did not finish. One of my palms was bleeding. My stomach gurgled and rolled.
Andy and the dog and the girls met me on the path behind our house. The dog, who hadn’t seen me for a good 50 minutes wagged and smiled. The rest of us were somber. Instead of cheers, high fives and a fast exchange of water bottles as planned, we walked quietly into the yard over a carpet of tiny purple flowers growing where there used to be grass.
For me this was the latest in a series of mishaps over the last two weeks. I wrote a yet to be published piece on the start of my recovery from COVID-doctoring, pleased with my insight. Two hours after finishing it I bonked the nose of my car into a fellow employee’s bumper in the parking lot- as I was thanking my stars for driving a small, nimble vehicle that could navigate tight spaces (there I was getting lost in reveries like Anne again). A few days later I developed the mildest of sore throats, a low grade fever and wasn’t sure if I could fully smell the Stinking Benjamin flowers that we found near the house. I had to stay out of work and get tested for COVID-19. After two agonizing days of being confined to the house I finally received the call that I was negative. And then this fall.
But the girls didn’t see my failed run that way. They know why I do the race, because there was a time just after they were born when I was too sick to run. During that time of colon cancer and surgeries and inflammatory bowel disease they were my bright light, a beacon of hope- and fear- for my struggles. So when we got inside the house today and I showed off my wounds they began planning what they were going to do when I tried to run this thing again next weekend or the weekend after.
This was a strange isolated Mother’s Day where I haven’t seen my own mother in nearly 5 months (except kind of during the excellent FaceTime art classes she, retired from art teaching for twenty years, has been doing with the girls). As I sat on the couch with an ice pack and a warm blanket reading Anne of Green Gables of course, the girls sat next to me reading snippets of Calvin and Hobbes out loud. I was so grateful for their perspective, for them.