A few days ago, a text thread with my adventure sisters went something like this….
Dawnell: Want to go see Brittany runs a marathon on Wednesday at 7 in Irvine?
Lisa: Brittany who?
Lisa: I’m so confused.
Dawnell: It’s a movie…Brittany Runs a Marathon, based on a true story.
I had no idea there was such a movie out right now. I thought Dawnell was suggesting we go see a mutual friend named Brittany run a marathon — I didn’t know which Brittany or why she was running a marathon so late in the evening.
Once the message became clear, she had me at “based on a true story.” My kids make fun of me because they know that’s all they have to say to get me to watch anything — from a Netflix series on basketweaving to a movie about penguins that make shoes for a living. It doesn’t matter as long as it’s based on a true story.
So tonight we grabbed a bite to eat and went to see Brittany run a marathon on the big screen.
In the beginning of the movie, Brittany is told by a doctor that she needs to lose weight and get healthy. After being shocked by the membership price tag at the local gym, she decides that since running is free, that will be her ticket to following the doctor’s orders. She stands on the sidewalk in front of her apartment, contemplating the energy it will take to propel herself forward, and whispers to herself, “One block.” She runs the block. It’s not easy, but she remembers the advice of a friend — “Small goals.” Then she runs two blocks. Then a mile. Then she signs up for a 5k. She eventually decides with two other friends to train for the New York City Marathon.
Along the way, Brittany tends to push people away rather than allowing them to help her on her journey. Her brother-in-law tells her, “Brittany, when people want to support you, let them.”
I’m not dropping a spoiler here because…look at the name of the movie. Eventually Brittany does run the marathon. She is, of course, exhausted as the miles wear on, but she hears the voices of her friends yelling her name, cheering her on. It gives her the inspiration, the strength, the determination to keep going.
Random experiences that before January 1 would have held no connection to Chandler now steer my thoughts and emotions toward my son. I wasn’t obsessed with Chandler until he wasn’t here any more. Now I see him and hear him in places I never would have before. It seems all roads lead to Chandler. And tonight, Brittany’s marathon lead me there.
When Brittany stood staring at the sidewalk ahead, unsure how she would be able to run the entire block, I remembered how it felt lying in my bed on January 2 wondering how I would be able to get up. But I did. I brushed my teeth. And I went downstairs. I remember another small goal was to make a spinach smoothie for breakfast. Eventually, I did it. Another goal…go to the grocery store. I did it. And another goal…go back to work. I did it.
Tonight as I watched Brittany’s courage well up in the last grueling miles of her race, fueled by the presence of loving friends, I felt a kindred spirit with her. I am in a grueling race with no finish line in sight. I hear the voices of friends cheering me on. I accept with deep gratitude every bit of support. I know I can’t run this alone.
Grief is not a sprint. It’s a marathon.