In Time, Happy Memories Are All That Will Remain

Yesterday morning, my sister and I woke up early to walk 4.7 miles in honor of our Uncle LJ.

“How did you even start running?” Sarah asked as we kicked off our long walk together. 

“Well, I had just graduated college and I was looking for my next big ‘thing’ to focus on,” I said. “I was always inspired by my friends who ran half marathons and other races. But, I was never the running type…I hated it actually. I would hide behind the bleachers during our warm up and cool down runs when I was in track. And the only thing I hated more than running a mile in gym class was squared lunch pizza. Anyway, one day  I just jumped on the treadmill…and I could barely run for 30 seconds without stopping. But, I didn’t give up. And now I’ve done 4 half marathons and countless races.. ”

“I really don’t know how you do it,” Sarah said.

“Some days, I don’t either,” I said back. “But I can’t seem to live without it. I run when I am sad. I run when I am stressed. I run when I want to eat nachos or cake balls. Running is just part of who I am now.”

I gave her advice that my running mentors once gave me: 

  • Wear good running shoes. When your feet hurt, everything hurts!
  • Focus on distance or speed, you can’t do both right away.
  • Take it one step at a time. One mile at a time.
  • Just start by putting one foot in front of the door. And repeat.
  • Don’t compare yourself to anyone else…when you’re running, run for you!
  • Buy Body Glide. You must buy Body Glide.
  • Sign up for races to stay motivated and on track.
  • Listen to your body, but remember running is about 30% physical and 70% mental. Be strong mentally. 

We spent the second half of our walk sharing our favorite memories about Uncle LJ, her upcoming wedding plans, her fitness goals, my job, her job and the lessons we’ve learned over the years. We walked by our old elementary school, my first job,  and the doctors office – all of which created more stories and memories to share.

And soon enough, we both agreed that time goes too quickly…and we need to make more time for family

I remember when we hit the 5K point, I was thrilled for Sarah.

“It’s not even 9 am, and you’ve already done a 5K,” I said.

“Yeah, but we walked the whole way,” she said. “But I guess you have to start somewhere.” 

She already has the PERFECT attitude. I couldn’t be more proud of her…4.7 miles is the farthest my sister has ever walked / ran.

When we got home, we plopped on the ground and started stretching.

We did it!
P.S. Look at Bandit’s smile. What a stud.

 Just as we were finishing up the picture, Sarah’s snarky neighbor lady yelled at us, “EXCUSE ME, LADIES! THAT IS NOT YOUR YARD! GET OUT OF IT WITH THAT DOG!”

I was shocked.

Absolutely shocked.

First, it really didn’t look like her yard – because as you can see from the picture above – we were far from her driveway.

Second, who is that unhappy and hateful in life?

I didn’t know what to say…and I was full of emotions.

I looked at her for about 30 seconds without saying anything and then I stood up.

“Well, I just hope you have a great day!!” I said and meant it in the most sarcastic way possible.

“Oh, well…” she said. “You too then!”

She just stood there in her ugly night gown, unsure what to say next..

I leaned over to Sarah and said, “Kill em’ with kindness I guess.”

Then, I told Sarah what I REALLY wanted to yell back, which is not appropriate for this blog.

When I told my mom the story later, I joked that I couldn’t believe my best comeback was, “I just hope you have a great day!”

“I’m not,” she said. “That’s just how our family is…”

And thankfully so… because being rude back to her wouldn’t have made me a better person or less upset. 

***

The funeral was hard- but that’s not a surprise. What funeral is ever easy?

I walked in with Justin and the room was silent except for the video slideshow playing in the background.

No one was talking.

Everyone was crying.

I didn’t really know who to hug first or what to say..so I decided to just watch the slideshow.

Soon, my mom and Aunt Cathy walked over to me.

The site of them crying made me tear up, so we shared hugs and just cried together watching the slideshow.

Thankfully, a few pictures made us laugh.

When the video started from the beginning, I laughed that Lady GaGa “Born This Way” was the intro song.

My Aunt Cathy, who made the slideshow, started smiling and said, “This was the #4 song played in his iTunes.”

And if you knew Uncle LJ, you would just crack up picturing him listening to Lady GaGa.

When the next song in the video started, Aunt Cathy told me it was the #2 song in his iTunes….

“Only The Good Die Young.”

My heart sank…

Eventually, I walked over to his casket. He had hot sauce in his pocket (he put it on everything). His iPod was placed in his hands. A sign next to his casket said, “Everything I learned in life was from Star Trek.” His giant travel mug was on the ground next to him and his collection of fun ties laid across the casket. Memories raced through my mind…everything was placed perfectly around him.

A few minutes later, my nephew Braxen went up to the casket and said, “Have fun in heaven with Grandpa.”

Then my other nephew Landen went up to the casket and started blowing kisses and waving goodbye to him.

My Aunt Angie heard the boys and turned away to cry. Most of us did…

I did my best to hold it together throughout the day. I wanted to say strong for everyone else. But I broke down on the ride home. I remember trying to close my eyes…hoping I would stop crying if my eyes were closed. But obviously that didn’t work…

When I got home, I text my mom and said, “I love you so much! I can’t imagine your pain and hurt right now, but you know I am here for you!”

A few hours later, she text me: “Love you baby girl! Saying goodbye is never an easy thing, but in time happy memories are all that will remain.”

With that, I picked myself off the couch and got ready for a date night with Justin. And off we went to make happy memories of our own…

“Breathe. Let go. And remind yourself that this very moment is the only one you know you have for sure.”
-Oprah Winfrey 

Much love,
Ashley

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