This post is also available in: Română
I want to begin by saying that I’m not ok. For a year now, I’ve been constantly lying. I’ve lied to myself, pretending to be fine, telling myself that it will get better. I’ve been lying to everyone, pretending to have everything under control. Truth is, I miss you. But you know this already, don’t you? After all, you’ve been through the same thing. I’ve always wanted to ask you, how did you learn to live without her? Without your mom. Because when I tell you there’s no one I love more than I love you, that my heart feels like it’s breaking for the thousand’ time, that all I want is for the pain to be gone, I know you understand. And I know that if you could, you’d make it all go away. But until that happens, please don’t worry. I think I’m starting to understand how to deal with it all – one day at a time.
I want to tell you that I forgive you. I forgive you for never seeing me graduate and never holding my hand again. I forgive you for not being here for me to hug you at least fifty times a day and for not drinking mom’s coffee anymore. I forgive you for not being here to hear about my crazy ideas and not planning your afternoon nap just so that you could be awake when I come back from school and sit with me while I eat and tell me about your day. I forgive you for breaking my heart. So please forgive me too, for going through your stuff, for reading your emails to see what you told your friends about me. I just need to feel you here, need to know you were real. Because there are days when I wonder if you did actually exist. But then, after dreaming about you and waking up in tears, when nothing around matters and I feel like I can’t breathe anymore, that’s when I know it’s more than true. But as much as it hurts, I wouldn’t change a thing. Everything made me who I am today. I might not be the person I was a year ago. The girl who used to laugh every day, who talked about her dreams and walked with her head high, maybe she’ll never come back. And that’s ok. Because neither are you. And the truth is, I need you. I need you in order to be that person. But you’re not here, so I can only be who I am today. And I’m sorry for everyone who didn’t get to know me a year ago.
I remember I just got back from school. You were lying on the couch, reading. I wonder where I got my love for books from? “Monkey, what did I tell you?” The typical phrase for “you screwed up.” What did I forget this time? I was already thinking about all of the things I probably shouldn’t have done in the past 24 hours. Have you figured out that on Wednesdays I was supposed to get home at 3 PM and not 11 AM? “I tell you that I like the way you write and you don’t tell me about you having a blog?” Did you know that as I was growing up the only thing I wanted whenever I was showing you one of my drawings was for you to at least look at it? “Monkey, you know I’m not good at this. It’s pretty, but please, go do something productive” You never even glanced at them. Now, years later, I can’t even get mad. You know why? Because at that moment, the day before you left, without me asking you to, you appreciated what I was doing and were proud of me. Even more, you wanted me to keep writing. I want to thank you. Thank you for being there and believing in me when it mattered most. Thank you for being the first person who saw the potential in me, for loving me the way every kid should be loved. Thank you for being my hero. Now, after understanding that writing is the only thing that helps me deal with the pain, here I am. Writing a story I wish I never had to tell.
A few weeks ago, I had one of the best long runs I’ve had in months. Do you remember how we were talking about how running with you will help me for when I’ll have to run with the guys? You were right. Thank you! I want you to know that it reminded me of you. It reminded me of how everything started.
“Yesterday we ended up going to that race I was telling you about. She wasn’t convinced but didn’t really have a choice. She was supposed to run with the veterans from the 80+ category, run until the end of the park, and come back. Ganea showed us with whom she would have to run and I told her to stay behind him until the finish and then kick. […] I was leading until Cabana Usturoiu. There, surprise, surprise! Alexia, alone, was doing the long course. She told me that the old man turned around but told her to keep going. I ran with her on the way back, so of course, I didn’t end up finishing in the top three and didn’t win anything either. But now I’m certain about Alexia’s running. Do you realize that she ran two kilometers fast and then another two even faster? I’ve raced her up to the statue, and on the last three-hundred meters, on the downhill, she actually gave me a hard time. Do you realize she ran four kilometers with a pace of sub-five minutes/km? She didn’t stop or complain once.”
I’ve never cried as much as I did when I read this. I remember everything as if it was yesterday. I remember thinking you were mad because I made you lose the race when the truth is you couldn’t have been prouder. Whenever things don’t go as planned during a workout or a race, when the rude comments get to me, and I feel alone and lose confidence, I read this. Because I know that as long as you believe in me, nothing else matters. And whenever I run, I think about you. You were the first person who ever believed in me. And more than ten years later, you continued to do so. That little girl who used to cry before a race, who never thought she could win, well, she ended up doing even more than that. She ended up being a national champion, a Balkan, European, and World medalist. She never even dared to dream about it. But you believed in her. And while with tears in her eyes and a hand over her heart she was singing the national anthem along with the rest of the Romanian “golden girls” – you were home, knowing the sky was the limit.
Now, when nothing goes as planned, I try to remember where I come from, who I am and who I want to become. I wish I could still call you before a race, just like I did a few years ago, before my first ever mountain running competition when I had no idea what I was getting myself into – “Just go and run as if you were with me. Everything will be fine. Oh, and try not to break something.” I wonder what you would tell me now? How many times a day would we talk? How many times would I hug you when I get back home? Things have changed so much over the last twelve months. Now, when I barely find the courage to speak, and I hide behind this “cold” exterior, when the only thing I wish for is for someone to see through all of these lies, I can only tell you that I still find a way to keep dreaming. I keep dreaming of the impossible. I dream about being happy. I dream about seeing you again, someday.
I promise you I’ll make it far. I’ve got amazing people taking care of me. Whether we’re talking about mom, your friends who now I get to call family, my friends, and everyone else who continues to dream with me. And even though you’re not the one who holds me tight anymore, I know I’m in good hands. I know that the track office and the gym are always open for me if I need a hug or a shoulder to cry on. I know that somewhere, be it France, Ireland, Canada, Japan, Romania, Germany, or Hungary, someone is always there to listen to me. And one day, when I’ll be on the podium, with the gold medal around my neck, singing the national anthem, looking up at the sky and my tears won’t be from a broken heart anymore, but happy tears, I’ll be thinking about you. I’ll be thinking about the person I love the most. The person who saw potential in that little girl who was running up the mountains. The little girl who years later still found the courage to dream, to hope. I know I can do it! I know that in the end, I’ll make it! And when everything will be over, and the sky won’t be the limit anymore, we’ll pick it up from where we left – from “I love you!”
With love, forever,