This post actually took me a while to get around to. The beginning of 2015 has definitely been bittersweet. I came into spring running with a lot of momentum and a renewed outlook on things. I was plenty faster than I had been before, I had set goals, and had a detailed plan for how I was going to accomplish those goals. I was well on my way, until that fateful night in March when I got a phone call that brought me to my knees. Losing a parent is something that will turn your life upside down emotionally, and unfortunately in many cases can drive families even further and further apart. They always say 2 things in life bring out people’s true colors: death and divorce. After seeing and experiencing both, I’m afraid I have to agree.

It’s truly been a day by day process for me. Some days I feel motivated and strong, others I crumble because I miss her so much. Unfortunately for me, nearly all of the final details and subsequent dealing of affairs fell on my shoulders. Chaos would’ve unfolded had I not stepped up to play the role of the sole executor. So, in many ways, I had no choice but to rise to occasion.

Which brings me to quick side note friends – even though it may be a morbid and uncomfortable conversation to have with your loved ones, make sure you have instructions in place in the unfortunate event you or someone in your family passes. I can assure you that by doing so you will be spared many more uncomfortable and untimely conversations when that day comes.

Even though it was a weight I was not prepared to carry, I did my best to handle the situation with as much class and consideration as I could. This in itself was a daunting task. The week of bereavement I had felt like a day, and seemed to be nothing more than a tear-filled blur of hearing that same phrase over and over – “I’m sorry for your loss.” What I found to be especially taxing was the mere fact that I had no time to process anything at all it seemed like. I was so busy with funeral homes, paperwork, banks, playing attorney, and dealing with the family that I neglected to take much time for myself. My phone would not stop ringing and I really did get to a point where I was close to going over the edge. It was not until weeks later, and forcefully breaking myself away that I finally got around to having an opportunity to grieve myself. I was completely exhausted.

Although I have started to let her go, with each passing day I struggle for more and more to hold onto. I read her obituary over and over, as if by doing so I may strike up a lost memory or somehow recall something I may have missed. If I get a free weekend I always seem to find myself in her home town, aimlessly driving around and going to all her favorite restaurants. And even though it shatters me each time, I always make it a point to drive by her place before I leave. I don’t know, it just feels like I’m saying goodbye to her before heading back home.

Obviously with all this going on, my training took a backseat for close to 2 months, and any big plans that I had for the early part of the year i.e. the Salt Flats 100 simply couldn’t happen, so I rolled it over into 2016.

My initial goal was to just get back to some semblance of normalcy in day to day life, which for the most part I have managed to do. I’m slowly working my way back into running and letting it fill the place in my heart that it always has. My friends and coworkers have truly been great and offered unending support and love. I really feel fortunate to be surrounded by so many good people. It’s been one of the few things that has kept me level and sane throughout all of this. In fact, being surrounded by so much positivity has really made me realize and question why I used to let so much negativity and distraction into my life before. It’s hard to see the truth about things sometimes, but I have definitely spent so much time on the wrong people, the wrong girls, the wrong situations, the wrong jobs,  and just….the wrong priorities before now. Despite the loss of my mom, I feel a wonderful sense that I am on the right track and exactly where I need to be. It’s really made me understand and appreciate the concept that if someone or something in your life is a detriment rather than a positive attribute or addition, kindly show them the exit. For the first time in my life, I feel like I’m going my own way, I mean truly going my own way. The choices I make are in my own best interest without strings attached to someone or something else. Liberating and wonderful feeling.

With all that said, my 2015 agenda will consist of some shorter races with a handful of ultras, plenty of traveling, self-discovery, and lots of quality time with friends and family. The job is going well and I find myself looking forward to the future. I think the best way to honor my mother is to live the life I want to and fill it with as much love and light as possible. I always feel her around me and know she’s always there if I need to talk. If I’ve learned anything it’s to make the most of each day, of each phone call, of each visit, of each hug. Cherish the people in your life. Laugh often. Don’t sweat the small stuff. And always always always, end each conversation with “I love you.”

“They all kept telling me ‘I’m sorry for your loss,’ as if you were someone who could ever be taken from me.”

– Unknown

RIP Maria Olivia Blea

03/23/1952 – 03/06/2015


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