Just a Little Farther…

images-21When Mark and I first got married, he was in the Army and we were stationed on Fort Riley, Kansas. Mark was in great shape and totally fit from daily PT and all of the other physical rigors that accompany military life. I, however, was not. But I had run track in high school and wanted to start with running as a means to get back in shape. Mark wanted to run with me and I immediately disliked this idea. I knew running would be hard, and as a competitive person, I was not ready to suck in front of him. Sucking by myself would be easier to take. But he insisted it would be more fun to do it together. Begrudgingly, I agreed, and just as I had imagined, not long into our first run, I was ready to hit the wall.

{That competitive spirit is how I ended up with a tattoo. Mark thought I wasn’t tough enough to get one. Oh? Really? Is that so? Watch me. Um. So yeah. I don’t recommend that as a consistent way to make life decisions. But at 24, it felt totally legit}

So there we were, running along and Mark chatting away, acting as if it were no big deal (JERK!) while I am out of breath and ready to stop and walk. I’m sure I was ticked off and possibly being a poor sport. I was sucking in front of him! UGH! But just as I was starting to say I couldn’t go any farther, he looked over at my struggling self and said, “See that stop sign up ahead? You can make it to there.” I’m positive I rolled my eyes and inwardly whined that I was sure I couldn’t…But, indeed, I did make it to the stop sign. After all, it was only 100 yards away. Okay. Fine.

But Mark had a method now. As we neared the stop sign and I was mentally preparing to  collapse and take a break, he chimed in again. “See that fire hydrant up ahead? You can go just a little farther and make it to there.” This guy! What the heck! See? This is why I wanted to run by myself! Maybe it was my competitive nature, pride, or just aggravation, but I kept going. I DID make it to the fire hydrant. And then some. And as you might imagine, Mark continued to coach me this way through the rest of the run. And lo and behold, I made it to the end.

Only a few short years after that day, I am sitting in the dark. Staring at the clock. I have lost Mark. He is gone forever and not coming back. I am physically aching to be where he is. The grief is dark and thick and threatens to consume me. I am fully convinced I cannot go any further. And it is then that I faintly remember his coaching, whispering to me now in the night. I hear myself say out loud to the empty room, “It is 11:31. I can make it to 11:32. It is 11:32. I can make it to 11:33…”

I don’t know how long I sat there counting minutes, but I made it through that night and went on to use that coaching many, many nights after that. In fact, 20 years later, I still use it. And I have taught my kids to use it, too. Because you know what? It works. The truth is, you can pretty much always make it through another minute. And then another one. And another one. And the minutes turn into hours, and then into days and weeks and months. And before you know it, you are absolutely doing that which you swore you could not do.


I don’t know what it is you’re facing today that feels too hard. Maybe it’s learning to run, or maybe it’s grief or maybe it’s a hard marriage or parenting or a job you hate– or maybe– maybe it’s just life. Because life is freakin’ hard. Even when it’s good, it’s hard. But I’m pretty sure you can get through today. Take a deep breath and go just a little farther. You can do this.

{And Mark. I hope you are smiling.

And proud.

And…we will keep going…just a little farther… until we see you again someday}

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4 thoughts on “Just a Little Farther…

  1. Thanks for this. I found lots of other wisdom in your posts – “Really? I’m going to call bullshit on that”, and “can we please just acknowledge the suck of today?” – and other juicy tidbits that make me happy to have found such perfect guidance for my imperfect life. Looking forward to reading more.

    Like

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