When the Race is Over

by Yarden Frankl

March 24th, 2014

I ran the Jerusalem Marathon a few days ago.

I put everything I had into that race and finished with a time I was proud of. It was my strongest effort ever.

But now the race is over.

I close my eyes and think about an extremely long, sometimes exhilarating, but more often painful, journey.

I remember standing at the start line, full of energy and anxiety, wondering how the race would go. I looked into the faces of my friends as we encouraged each other. With no real knowledge of what would really happen, we assured each other that everything would be fine.

Yet, I’ll admit it, deep down I was very nervous. Scared of how the long miles would feel.

The race started and I tried to fall into a rhythm, anxiously awaiting each marker that would show me how much progress we had made. As I passed each one, I imagined that maybe it would not be so bad. Maybe I would be able to just run to the finish with a big smile on my face.

www.ZalemOti.comBut then, the race became increasingly difficult. Soon, it was beyond difficult — it was painful to keep going at that pace.

But the thing was, after a certain point, you don’t make choices. There is no quitting. You just have to keep going no matter how it feels.

In thinking back,  I can’t help but wonder if I could have done better. I know it’s not a healthy thought at this point. But I do ask if I really made all the right decisions.

Was it possible…. I could have done this differently and had a different outcome? I don’t obsess about it, but it is a nagging thought.

But the truth is, it really doesn’t matter now. The race is over.

I have to accept it. I’m no longer out on that course, running kilometer after kilometer wondering when the finish line will come.

Should be a “relief,” right?

Sometimes it is. Sometimes I understand that the hard part is over, the suffering is over.

And slowly, slowly, the painful memories of the stretch right before the finish line are starting to fade, leaving me with more of the feelings from the times I felt strong — the good memories.

And that’s when I drop those nagging doubts and tell myself that I did everything I could.

www.ZalemOti.comBut the one things that is clear is that the race is over.

I have to move on to new things.

No, I could never forget this long, long difficult run. Nor do I really want to let go completely of any of the feelings I experienced.

What happened will always be a part of who I am.

And she will always be with me.

But I understand that there will be new, different challenges ahead. Challenges that demand all of my strength and determination.

And she would expect me to embrace these challenges and not cling to the memories of pain. She never backed down and slid into feeling sorry for herself.

And neither will I.

Yarden Frankl, Neve Daniel

 

 

A Park for Stella

by Yarden Frankl

January 20th, 2014

photo (24)I don’t write much about Stella any more.

That it no way reflects how I feel. I love her just as much today as I did when she was alive. And I will for the rest of my life.

It’s just back then, writing was good therapy. I was able to share my terror, my grief, my loneliness.  For me, this blog was like going to a deep dark pit and screaming down it. Then, waiting for the echo and feeling a little better because Stella’s death was not going unnoticed. While I wanted to reach out and stop the world from turning so that everyone on the planet would know what had happened, this was the best I could do.

But what I now realize is that, strangely, life does go on. The world does keep turning.

We go to work, school, the grocery store, etc.

Read the rest of this entry »

Clarifications

by Yarden Frankl

January 1st, 2014

photo-10I re-wrote some of my last post. Took out the cursing and the finger pointing.

You see, I was in a bad mood when I wrote it. I was in more than a bad mood, I was crashing.

Just watching the video of Stella singing and laughing with friends was literally crushing.

And you want to know the truth? I should not have watched it.

No one is saying that.

Except for me.

Let me explain what I really meant in the last post. Because I implied that someone had told me I should forget Stella and all of you leapt to my defense and came charging in with comments and Facebook posts screaming at this terrible idea.

But I was not clear and many of you got the wrong idea.

No one — no one — is suggesting that I never look at a picture of Stella. No one says that I should just move on after two months as if nothing happened. The very thought is ridiculous. I will still be looking at pictures and remembering Stella till the day I die, even if I live until one hundred and twenty.

BUT — and here’s the key — that does not mean that it is a good idea for me to all the time to be reminded of my loss. For example, I changed my cell phone home screen and my Facebook icon. Because seeing Stella pop up smiling whenever someone called me or I posted…. it just hurt. It became a sharp punch to my heart. It was like stumbling onto that video.

I want to remember Stella on my own terms. When I am by myself or with a few close friends, and I can remember good times. But, if I put her picture up in my new bedroom, I might never leave. And that’s not what I want and certainly not what Stella would want.

Stella was quite clear. Her number one worry was not dying, but the impact her death would have on all of us. She made me promise that I would learn how to live again. That cancer might claim her life, but it was not going to take me down too.

It’s not easy, for sure. I have rough moments every day. But I also have some good moments. Sometimes I surprise myself by feeling good. And I always look up to the sky and smile when that happens. And I feel her pat me on the back and know that somewhere in heaven, she is watching me and glad when I am able to escape the grief and depression.

Don’t worry. No one is telling me not to grieve. No one expects me to forget my angel. But I have to learn to differentiate between reminders of Stella that make me happy, and reminders that she is not here, that take the air from my lungs.

So thanks for all your words. I know you all have my back. But it’s ok. I’m making progress.

Yarden Frankl, Neve Daniel

Sweet Rhapsody

by Yarden Frankl

December 26th, 2013

stellazbSome people might say that I shouldn’t keep looking at Stella’s pictures. It will just make it harder to move on.

And others might say that maybe I shouldn’t keep blogging about Stella. That maybe the blog simply becomes an online shrine and I the caretaker.

Perhaps I shouldn’t dwell on reminders of her absence because I need to be able to walk away.

But I can’t do that.

I loved every thing about Stella and I can’t let go.

I love her smile, her laugh, her voice. I loved all the tiny imperfections that make us all unique individuals. So I loved the way her little feet curved as much as the way her eyes would sparkle. I even loved the charming craziness that made her who she was. She would walk into a room where I was reading a book and turn off the light, saying that I didn’t need the light. Yeah, it would drive me insane, but that’s what I loved.

And what I will never forget.

Sure everyone knows about her kindness, her zealousnes about showing appreciation. Her complete modesty and ability to stay in control no matter what was going on around her. In an old file I found a work evaluation from the Children’s Defense Fund, her first job when we were married in Washington, D.C. The evaluation proclaims that when everyone else was panicking over some event, she stayed smiling and calm and  knew what to do. This was in 1990, twenty-four years ago.

And when I was nervously fiddling with the morphine bottles trying to ready an injection without cutting myself on the glass in the middle of the night, she would give me gentle encouragement even though  she was barely concious. “Take a deep breath. Hold it up to the light. Inject it here. You can do this.”

So many memories.

I stumbled on to a video of her and two friends at a Karaoke night singing “Bohemian Rhapsody.” A part of me told me not to watch, yet how could I not?

And there she was a few months before getting sick, smiling and laughing and singing. “I don’t want to die, I sometimes wish I’d never been born before. Carry on, carry on. Because nothing really matters….”  No sh*t.

Fu## that. Where’s the freeking justice in the world???? What the hell happened???

How can I not dwell on memories of this amazing angel with whom I shared most of my days???

I’ve tried to not think about her and get on with life. But you know something? It’s not possible and days with memories — even painful memories — are better than days without.

They say that pain makes you stronger. If that’s true, look out.

Sometimes I really wonder how I can possibly get out of bed in a world without her.

But don’t worry. I do. My mission in life is to take care of the kids. I know they need me, and they will get me.

But beyond that, sometimes all I want to do is stay in bed with the pain sitting on my chest.

Because to skip the pain would mean to forget just how much she meant to me.

And I won’t do that.

Yarden Frankl, Neve Daniel

 

Learning to Run Slow

by Yarden Frankl

December 17th, 2013

I don’t do slow.

It’s not a brag. I will say up front, that there’s busloads of guys (written as gender inclusive cause “gals” has always sounded corny to me) who can kick my butt in a run. So when I saw I don’t do slow, I’m not making out to be the Jewish Usain Bolt. No, “Slow” and “fast” are relative to each runner. Let me explain what I mean.

If you are a smart runner — a sensible runner — you know how to pace yourself. You know how to conserve energy until the end of a race, no matter what the distance. Even in training, you should do long runs in which the second half is run faster than the first. Not only will your overall time be better, you won’t risk flaring out and having to finish your run gasping for breath and ready to collapse over the finish line.

But I’m not a smart runner. I use my heart and not my brain when I run. No matter what the plan, I go hard from the start and struggle at the end. It’s just my personality. I’ve tried to change, but most of the times I realize that it’s not going to happen and I just go with it.

My life has become one long run now. Stella may have reached the finish line — obviously not the kind I had hoped for — but a finish line nonetheless.

But I feel my run has just begun.

And there are many times when — believe it or not — I feel good, real good. I can smile and banter and laugh and feel like my old self. Sometimes I feel “Hey, I CAN do this. I’ve turned the corner.” I pump my fist in the air and sing my music. And I feel that Stella is supporting me in spirit. That is how she wants me to be.

But I run too fast. Invariably something will set me off. And then I go from jubilation to feeling like I’ve been hit by a truck. I cry and scream and shake and hold my sides as a wave of emotion rips through my body. I see nothing but injustice and demand to know WHY. The tears flow and everything I see and everything I hear reminds me of her. All I can do is wait it out until the feeling passes.

It does and I know in another day the cycle will start up again.

And if I am smart, I won’t let myself get carried away by the “highs.” I should know it will take time and not to get too excited when things appear to be moving along.

But I just can’t. This is just the way things will be because I am who I am.

And I don’t do “slow.”

Yarden Frankl, Neve Daniel