By Jessica Wilson
I pull my sweatshirt over my head, wrap my scarf 3 times around my neck and face, and slip my mittens over my gloves. I’m ready. I step outside and the sharp cold air hits what little skin is revealed and my lungs fill with a deep freshness. I put one foot in front of the other and settle into my pace. Darkness and silence surrounds me, the moon and stars lighting my way and it’s as if I’m the only one on the planet. As my cheeks warm, so does the horizon and for a brief time I can see both the moon and the sun. I witness the powerful presence of Mother Nature as thousands of birds fly overhead, beginning their migration, and soon after, a fox scurries by.
This run is a gift. An honor, really, to bear witness the forces of Mother Nature who is much greater than I. I am a tiny observer as the glistening stars give way to the emerging sun full of warmth and color, waking the gentle souls that encounter her beam. I am grateful to have the body and strength to take me on this daily ritual and an awareness for the beauty and wonder of the world.
For this awareness didn’t always exist. Running became my lifeline as I grieved the stillbirth of my second daughter Quinn. It wasn’t that I wanted to run after her death. I had to run like my life depended on it. After her death I was clinging onto the side of a cliff, my fingers loosing grip, slipping down and further down. I had to decide if I would let go and plummet into the crater of depression or if I would strengthen my grip and push myself beyond all measures upward. Running gave me the strength and courage to face each day and helped me slowly inch my way toward lightness.
During my runs I had dedicated time to grieve that was truly my own and helped me battle the darkness that was taking over my body and mind. While running I learned how to translate my grief into love and through this journey I became awakened to the beauty of the world. I saw, smelled, and heard things that have always been there, but previously went unnoticed. The more miles I ran, the stronger my bond was with my stillborn child and the more beauty entered my life.
Running stayed my companion as I endured my second loss, a miscarriage at 9 weeks. Again, my hopes and dreams were ripped away from me. I was knocked back into the crater and darkness engulfed me. But this time I didn’t stay there as long. My good friend running was there to push away the darkness inside of me which made room for light, love, and beauty.
This awareness of the world turned into something much greater. As I gained an appreciation for the beauty in the world, I came to an existential understanding of life. This was my only time to live my life. What was I waiting for? We get one shot at life and that’s it. Over before you know it. Some people, like my second daughter Quinn, don’t even get their one shot. For me…for her…I had to go on living. This awakening ignited a greater capacity to see beauty and feel love that was deeper than ever before.
For in my daughter’s death I was reborn.
Since my rebirth I have done some big living, marathoning in memory of Quinn, climbing Mount Washington, and more. However, it is the little living, what I call “living a big little life” that has brought me the most meaning. Living a big little life is about being right here, right now. We don’t always have to do something big to experience joy and meaning. We are already surrounded by so much beauty and love, we just need to be awakened to experience it.
Today, as I lace up my shoes and leave many of my heavy layers at home, I witness the birth of spring emerge from the bleakness of winter. As the sun kisses the horizon the flowers stand taller and the birds wake eagerly. For each new day, as the grief swirls into love in my heart and as the dark turns into light, there is new beauty to discover. This is Quinn’s gift.
Jessica Wilson is a proud mom to her beautiful living daughter Riley. Her second daughter Quinn was stillborn at 40 weeks and she later experienced a miscarriage at 9 weeks. Jessica writes about running to heal after loss in her blog Remember Quinn and dedicates runs to children who are gone to soon. To dedicate a run please visit: http://www.rememberquinn.com/p/run.html. Follow her on Twitter.