Last Sunday, the day of the Garden of the Gods 10 Mile Run, I think I experienced the whole gamut of human emotion. Thank goodness I had some loved ones by my side, especially during the 24 hours following the Garden run.
It was the four of us all day long: my son, myself, my father, and my mother. The other relatives were out of town, but these four were enough to get me through the unexpectedly difficult hours yet to come. The smiles of the morning at the race dissolved into tears by the early dawn hours of the following day, when a beloved family pet was euthanized in my brave son's arms. We had talked about this moment, we were a little prepared for this moment.
When we adopted the unconventionally large chihuahua, Louie, we fell in love, of course. My son said he wanted to hold the chihuahua as it took its last breath, and he did, which was lucky for me because by then I had lost my strength. It had been over four days of decline, and we went through that first phase of grief. The DENIAL. "Oh he just got into something, he will be fine", to the other phases that follow predictably, according to Katerine Kubler Ross. I was ANGRY. He was only 7 years old. Why? Then I BARGAINED. A lot. I tried special foods, gels, drops and watched him deteriorate underneath me. Then we found ourselves in the late night hours at the emergency vet clinic, running tests, finally having to stop at a point, sort of like a DNR in a hospital.
The DEPRESSION phase lasted for days. Made it through work obligations and did a few uninspired runs. Finally, a week later, Dad by my side again, I decided to follow our Peak tradition and make my first ascent training run. Dad used to run the thing but now he is my driver and picks me up on top. It was a good choice to go. ACCEPTANCE began to occur, the Peak seems to have that power over me. I even began to see some silver lining such as that this loss will prepare me for the bigger losses that will occur when I see those loved ones from my own species go through this thing.
I am almost myself again, laughing, and letting my newer dog, Sky (as in Skyrunner), the running dog of the family, charm me once more. I am even looking forward to training this week, preparing for the next leg of the Triple Crown (the Summer Roundup) adding much needed structure to my life again
I reflect on old pets found while running - Zeb the kitten that Michelle (yes that is my PikesPeakSports.us teammates Pheobe's mom) and I found on the peak during a rainstorm. We took turns carrying that little thing down. It even had a bow on its neck - someone must have dropped it out of the train that still ran on the Incline then. We ended up giving it to my mom that day for her birthday. Then there was Odie: who me and a van load of crazy college girls from Adams State found during one of our track road trips. My folks came to watch our next home meet in Alamosa, and adopted that dog also. We have watched these animals come and go and they will continue to do so. We go into these relationships knowing this but it does not seem to make it easier when we watch them leave us.
I appreciate my father as I reflect on our Fathers Day together. Others have been fond of him also, to the extent of making a watercolor of him while he was on the Peak, such as this one by our own Jeff Tarbertr, owner of Colorado Running Company. That same year I was also sketched while running one of my earlier Ascent races.... these seemed more fun than posting photos this time.
And, lastly, Dogs Louie and Sky in the only picture we got of them in the short months we had the two at the same time. This was at Red Mountain in Manitou, the original Mount Manitou Incline was there. My kids Sarah and Mike enjoyed taking the dogs on this tamer hike off of Ruxton Avenue, one where dogs are still welcomed.
I'd have taken more photos, but Louie was supposed to live longer, in my mind. But I am mostly OK now - at least his life was pretty much perfect for the short time he was here.
I guess that is all we can ask for, huh?