Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Rebirth of the Air Max Assail

Late last September, long after kids really should have been getting back to school, I joined the world of the runner. OK, in the interests of complete disclosure I was the guy on the side of the road with the dry heaves wondering why oh why was I doing this to myself. And that was just my reaction to stretching out beforehand.

At the beginning, it felt every morning as if I was going to die. But you get used to anything, sooner or later it just becomes your life (pseudo-obscure Springsteen lyrical reference dropped for the benefit of Bill and Rob) or at least a reliable, consistent part of it. Running became that for me - part of my morning routine that I both labored through and was refreshed by in the wee small hours before sunrise.

And then I made the cataclysmic and ultimately unwise life decision to change jobs. Had I known that a change of address would morph into a soul-sucking, life-draining experience, I would not have done it for not even I, Lord of the Idiots, am that big of one. Miraculously, I was granted the life equivalent of a mulligan. After four months "wintering at the Reservoir", which is how I characterize the experience for those who ask (or those of you who I can force it upon in a setting such as this one), I returned home. Eventually they shall tire of me and throw me out but until that happens, I am staying firmly affixed to the space I occupy.

Invigorated by the opportunity at a second chance, in early May I resumed running, which I had stopped doing almost immediately after passing through Hell's gates in early February. On the third morning back on the road, I felt a "tweak" in my lower back. Given my aversion for all things medical, I put off going to the doctor until late June, by which time I was walking in a hunched over, "Hey look Mom - it's a question mark!" style and during which time the big physical achievement of my day was getting my shoes tied.

As June ceded the stage to July my back improved perceptibly. I have been back playing softball (using the word "playing" in the broadest possible definitional sense) with my mates in the Essex County Lawyer's League since early July. However, I had not resumed my pre-dawn jaunts through the neighborhood. While I would like to say that the principal reason I had not was concern of re-injuring my back, the truth lies closer to the "because I had not done it in so long I knew it was going to hurt like hell" side of the ledger. In your mind's eye perhaps the movie of your life unreels as a heroic epic. In mine, it is a work of non-fiction - warts and all.

Earlier this week, my daughter Suzanne and her cousin Megan, came up with a suggestion that had me out of bed and back out pounding the pavement this morning. On Sunday, October 4th in Jackson, New Jersey, a Race for the Cure shall be run. Ever since I was a boy of sixteen, having buried the old man less than two years earlier, and Mom came home from a doctor's appointment I did not even know I had and said, "Ad, we are not going to visit Kara in San Francisco next week. I have a tumor in my breast and I am going into the hospital to have an operation called a radical mastectomy", nothing has provoked the combination of anger and fear in me to the degree that breast cancer does.

It is an insidious, relentless, horrible disease and it claims the lives for far too many people (the overwhelming majority of whom are women) every day of every year. I have to wonder sometimes for all of the hue and cry over $8000 toilet seats and $1500 Pez dispensers that end up buried in the annual defense appropriation, why more is not said about the hundreds of thousands of dollars wasted annually on important scientific undertakings such as figuring out why suede jackets get ruined when they get wet but cows do not instead of spending that money on a disease that the National Institute of Health says affects one in eight women during their lives and kills more women than any other form of cancer except for lung cancer.

This year, the ravages of this bastard of a disease have hit closer to home than in years past. On June 2nd, Margaret's mom - Suzanne and Megan's Nona - Suzy B. lost her brave, five-year fight against it. And while this has been a long, difficult summer emotionally for all of us, her two oldest grandchildren (separated in age by only five months) have declared that this Autumn we shall start hitting back. On the fourth of October, a team of runners that they have organized in honor of, in memory of and out of love for Nona, Sue's Crew, shall be among the teams participating in the Race for the Cure. Countless others - whether family or friends, shall be there to walk and to cheer and to support those of us who are running.

I needed a bit of motivation to get my lazy fat ass out of bed and on the road again in the wee shall hours of the morning. Courtesy of two quite outstanding young ladies (sure, I am biased but sue me) I have it. I shall run for the same reason that all of the rest of us who shall comprise the running part of "Sue's Crew" shall run: for life. For my wife's, my daughter's, my mother's, my sisters' and all of the other women in my life. But most of all, we shall run for Sue Bozzomo. We shall run to honor a life worth honoring. A life ended far too soon and much too painfully by a disease for which there is not yet a magic elixir - nor a way to prevent completely.

But it is out there somewhere. Somewhere on the road ahead of us. Just out of sight for now but somewhere over the rise. We shall run until we reach it. It makes us complete.

-AK

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