When running a relay, you generally have two or three "legs" to run or, in other words, sections of the race when you alone carry the baton for your team. You anxiously accept it from the previous runner and start your leg with enthusiasm and energy, overwhelmed at the wonder of being able to do it. Then before long, your muscles and lungs begin to tire and by the end of your leg, you are a gasping mass of sweat and exhaustion. You are so DONE and beyond ready to hand off that stupid baton to the next runner. And when your last leg is finished and you never have to run again, you sink into the back of the van and hum "Forever in Blue Jeans", or whatever song, from your iPod, had just pulled you in that last mile.
Sometimes life is like a relay.
A few weeks ago a woman who lived in a neighboring town, drove into the woods and ended her life. Why would she do it? HOW could she do it? Leaving what appeared to be a devoted husband is tragic, but leaving her two young sons ....... is unthinkable. There is no way to understand it. What was it that she could no longer bear? As I think about her, I imagine she felt she was carrying something that had become too heavy with no one to hand it off to. So she just relaxed her grip and let go...... Then a few days ago the popular and talented actor/comedian Robin Williams also took his life. What was his burden? What was it that pulled him downward?
I don't suffer from depression like so many people seem to. Like the woman in the woods and Mr. Williams probably did. I would never consider doing what they felt compelled to do. Absolutely never. But .....
..... Sometimes I fantasize of escape. And lately my fantasy comes in the odd shape of a 3 - 400 square foot box on wheels called a motorhome. I ponder ditching our semi-large house with all its demands and upkeep, my yard with its never-ending maintenance, and all the stuff...... and just driving away with my husband. And not just the stuff, but away from his obligations and pressures, that become my obligations and pressures. Away from all the gaps that constantly need to be filled. Away from the things that somewhere along the line, he agreed to carry and so I must carry too.... or else helplessly wait for him to collapse under them. Sometimes I just want to sort through all that stuff, keeping just a few precious bits..... like my children.... and leave the rest. Needless to say, I know..... of course I know .... that my load is nothing compared to the loads that others carry, like the poor woman in the woods, like RW, which leaves me feeling like an ungrateful, whiny schmuck.
Nonetheless, this leg of the race has been tough. Like the last one and the one before that, and the one before that. I'm tired of running it. I'm tired of the duties, obligations, and responsibilities that never stop.... and the endless needs of the needy. I'm tired of, dare I say it .... my own resentment. I'm tired of the assumptions and expectations about our willingness to always go and do and provide. Because sometimes we just aren't that willing .... or more specifically.... I'm not. Am I allowed to think that? Am I allowed to be ..... done?
Would a Winnebago, a long road, and no forwarding address fix it? Probably not.
But sometimes I just need to dream of letting the baton drop, while in reality I grit my teeth and continue to run.