25 years behind me — and what lies ahead

First, I want to thank everyone in what I fondly call my vast global audience, for your comments, suggestions, and supportive vibes as I contemplated and then lived through what should have been my 25th wedding anniversary in the absence of the other party to that anniversary. It was a very weird day, but thanks to you it was a good day in an odd sort of way.

I really can’t tell you how much your good thoughts lifted my spirits today. Thank you yet again.

I got a wide variety of suggestions ranging from (and I’m exaggerating a bit now) “go to bed and pull the covers over your head” to “go out and party hearty with champagne and loud music.” The applied social scientist in me suspects that each one of those suggestions was a projection of the personality of the person making the suggestion. I would have done the same thing if you had asked me what to do about your situation.

As I lean well toward the introverted end of the scale, my solution was to develop a headache by mid-afternoon and sneak off to take a nap in my favorite chair — almost but not quite pulling covers over my head. When I woke up I felt better, so I set about making myself some comfort food — homemade mushroom-cheese soup accompanied by local organic rye bread and a couple of glasses from a very nice bottle of local wine that I’d put away a couple of years ago. Except for the wine (Kurt stopped drinking years ago) this was a meal that Kurt would have loved. He didn’t always rave about my cooking. I’m a vegetarian, he wasn’t, so we often ate separately — which is one reason why we ate out so much. But he never failed to love my vegetable-cheese soups, no matter what the vegetable was. My only problem with today’s lovely meal was that I didn’t make enough (no leftovers!) and I used a little too much cheese (but Kurt would have loved the gummy cheeseballs that formed).

Then I decided what I want to do for a vacation next year. I guess it was those comments about “think about what you and he loved doing together” that made my decision not only possible but necessary today.

I want to do a running-related vacation, and I’d been thinking very seriously about doing the Marathon di Tuscany: a staged marathon in which participants run 26.2 miles over the course of several days in several locations in Italy. It sounded perfect — run, eat, and drink under the Tuscan sun. But I’ve been concerned about developing socio-economic-political disruptions in Europe (and globally). The promoters kept promising to open registration soon, but kept inexplicably delaying.

So today I was thinking about what sort of vacation would have worked for both Kurt and me. It was hard to imagine him getting excited about going with me to Italy, as he hated to fly, and we’d also agreed that our first trip to Europe would include a visit to the Porsche factory and museum in Stuttgart.

Then it struck me — the same promoters also lead an Alaskan running cruise.

Living where we do, Kurt and I watched Alaska cruise ships pass by every summer and promised ourselves that we’d do that some year. We were so close to going in 2009 that I actually mentioned our plans in the acknowledgements section of my dissertation — “now it’s finally time to take that Alaska cruise.” But think back, if you will, to the economic conditions of late 2008 and early 2009. It was not an auspicious time to commit several thousand dollars to a dream vacation. So we didn’t go.

Well, now I’m registered for the Great Alaskan Marathon Cruise on July 28 through August 4, 2012. Economic conditions are no better, but what the hell! At least this trip is largely domestic (we do stop in Victoria BC on our last afternoon, from which, weather permitting, I can see my home town across the strait). Thanks to tour organizers “the Penguin” John Bingham and his wife Coach Jenny Hadfield, I’ll be running in places like Juneau, Sitka, and Ketchikan, seeing glaciers up close (before they’re gone), and hopefully seeing lots of my beloved orcas and humpbacks as well. I’ll have to learn to run trails (yikes) and some major hills (big yikes!), as well as develop the resilience to run, walk, or crawl 26.2 miles (in four stages) under a variety of less-than-ideal conditions. The photos from the 2011 cruise show rain, BIG swells during the on-board deck race, and a really scary-looking flight of stairs in (I believe) Ketchikan. They also show lots of mega-smiles and some absolutely gorgeous scenery.

Besides all that stuff, it’s also a cruise, of course, and I smile now as I imagine Kurt doing all the things we dreamed about and putting up with the things I want to do: at the buffet line eschewing all that healthy runner food, relaxing in a deck chair or at the movie theatre, and cheering me on at the finish of four totally amazing races. I so wish he could have been there, but he won’t be. My life will go on.

Happy Anniversary, Kurt! Today was a good day — you would have liked it.


Posted on November 8, 2011, in LIfe_goes_on, Running and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Smiles and hugs! I’m so glad that your headache went away and you were able to have a good day! I’m even more excited you’ve registered for the cruise!!! Dad would be so happy that you are going to do something that you and he would have loved to do together 🙂 You are doing a great job of “getting back out there”, one step at a time and still remembering him as you start on this new part of your life! We all love you and can’t wait to see you when you “fly south” as you say 🙂

    • The headache came back today, but other than that I’m feeling pretty good about the way things went yesterday, and I’m excited about my plans for next summer. It was a tough thing to have passed on the Alaska cruise two years ago and then realize we were never going to take that trip together.

      How are you doing? Is it getting better for you too? I hope so.


  2. The “what lies ahead” is really exciting. I think you’ll undoubtedly look forward to this cruise for months and that should be special. You never write with a maudlin tone or any form of “manipulative” sentimentality, but you still hit something real in me that brings a few tears. Although I haven’t experienced the same level of loss, I think there are applications of “going on” in other arenas that we can all relate to. So I wish you well! You’ve had quite a week! Debra

    • Yes, it feels to me as if I am starting to find a path ahead. This isn’t simply an abyss. It’s more like a canyon. The trail down led straight over a cliff, but eventually you pick yourself up and start looking for a trail that leads up and out the other side. It will be a rocky trail, but it’s going somewhere new and potentially exciting

      Thanks for caring,

  3. Lori, Kaitie said it well … I’m also so happy for you and your decision to go on the cruise. Can’t wait to hear all about it.

  4. An Alaska cruise is one of those “kinda bucketlist” things for us, as is Italy. I trust either one would be wonderful and meaningful to you, in different ways. The fact of planning forward is what I would guess would be meaningful to Kurt, and thus blends the past and the future.

    I have no journal entry on 11/8/86, but I’m remembering shopping for dresses and fabric, some kind of superstition about flowers by Kurt’s mom, conversations before the ceremony itself, and a very freaked, very tiny Sheryl (Katie: I remember you there, but little more).

    • While either Alaska or Italy would be fun for me, there’s no question which Kurt would have preferred. And frankly, I was nervous about committing to travel to Italy while there is so much global instability. Staying closer to home seems a bit more prudent and still promises a BIG adventure!

      I can still plan on going back to Europe in the future. For me, the big draws would be seeing Edinburgh again, and yes I’ll visit the Porsche factory and museum!

      That was Kurt’s step mom at our wedding (his mom had passed away at 38, when Kurt was 16). Helen raised orchids and insisted that I use her flowers, which I didn’t want. I think we compromised and I used a few, but she wasn’t happy. As I later learned, there wasn’t much that anyone could do to please Helen.


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