Redeeming the time
So, it’s a 26miler once again, but this time, you take regular sips of wine and tastes of cheese – and steak! – along what you anticipate will be at least a 4 hour “engagement.”
Hasn’t been easy, preparing and psyching myself for this run: training at least 4-5x a week the past months, anticipating a “whole new dynamic” as running is actually paired off with drinking (I don’t know what to prioritize!) and getting downed by the flu just this Sunday, halting all training to zero! But no sulking, no excuses, no fear. It’s a given, and in math, you don’t complain about the givens: you simply factor them in.
What I experienced this morning though, tops the challenge: saying goodbye to our 4-year old Solana.
Being honest with our kids has long been a conviction of my wife and I: we will not avoid nor hide the truth from each other or our kids, as it is a foundation of trust and confidence. Not that all must know what everyone else knows, but we will be truthful re those things that affect them, for the benefit of all.
And so for the past days, I’ve been prepping Solana for this “8 sleeps trip” with Maricel, to make sure she will be able to take the momentary loss and physical separation and perhaps even look forward to the good it will do for her in the long run (sleepover with the grandma, more bonding with the sibs, and ofcourse, the pasalubong!)
But nothing prepares you for a last moment “agonizing cry and appeal” as we experienced it while finishing our packing at 4am this morning.
“I don’t want you to go Daddy.” “I want mama.” “I want you here…” as she awoke and sobbed uncontrollably.
And this I just had to give it’s course. Something Solana and our kids have graciously accepted in this life, but every so often still asked to assure themselves: “But it is ok to be sad, right Dad?”
Ofcourse it is ok, even as I hate seeing my children and my loved ones go through it.
In our last few moments before Maricel and I head off, I again ask her: “Dad and mom did tell you about this trip, right?” Even as she tears, she nods to confirm. “You do know that this is good for mom and dad, and what’s good for mom and dad is good for you, right?” Again, she acknowledges that. “And we will be back after 8 sleeps, right?” Even as the concept of multiple nights seems forever to a 4-year old, she confirms this as well.
By the time Maricel said her good byes, she had quieted down by then. When I checked on her again before leaving, she had this calm, surrendered yet hopeful spirit, as if to say: “I don’t like this dad, but I’m taking it, and you can move on.” She had one last request though: if her Kuya Benjamin could join her by her side as she slept another hour or so before school preps.
This trip better be worth it. No, let me declare it: it will be well worth the time. Nothing can ever justify leaving our loved ones behind except those things which will allow us to love and care for them even better.
To think of it now, for every marathon and triathlon I have joined in the past (and I am sure the same applies to my wife and kids), there are moments – sometimes loooong moments – of questioning and doubt: “Ano ba itong pinasok ko?” Kailan ba matatapos itong pagsubok na ito?!” (“What did I get myself into?” “When will this ‘trial’ ever end?!”). It’s the finish, and the reflections that follow, that make the struggle worth the while.
Just before we reached the airport we called home knowing all the kids would be up now, Solana including, preparing for school. We spoke to each one to again to say our goodbyes, and Solana’s words warmed our hearts: “I’m not sad anymore! I’m not crying. I’m ok na!”
It will be a journey. There will be moments of both joy and sadness. But it will be worth it. And before we know it, we will all be home together, as was meant to be.