We were sitting on the couch watching The Amazing Race on TV the other night. It’s been a family favorite for many years. Dave and I always thought our sons, Zach and Ian, should enter the race!
“Send in your audition video,” I’d encourage year after year. “You guys should do this! Hey, it’s for a million dollars,” I’d carry on.
We were very serious but the idea never gained traction with either of them. I guess they were just too busy creating their own Amazing Races or they just weren’t that interested in a million dollars. Still, anytime I watched the show, I could envision them navigating foreign streets, launching watermelons with enormous slingshots, scaling the outside of skyscrapers, rock climbing or whatever crazy challenge came their way. Upon being eliminated from the contest, most contestants tearfully admit that it is the incredible journey that is the most valuable part of being on the Race.
This year, two young men have dominated many of the challenges, Redmond and Matt. Matt is a professional snowboarder and Redmond is a motivational speaker who races with a prosthetic leg. Both are very athletic. I don’t know too much about their backgrounds but, of course, when I watch them I think about Zach and Ian running the Race!
But, this can never be.
Since Ian passed away from cancer last year, there is an unending list of unfulfilled dreams – his and mine. My dreams have all but faded and it’s just about getting through the day now. Forget the Amazing Race, I need Amazing Grace each morning when I open my eyes to face another day without our beloved Ian. I thank God that he continues to offer it to me.
As much as I despise returning to the bits and pieces of our normal life without Ian, I know that this is required. Little by little. Inch by inch. Day by day. I must allow life to happen again, even when it hurts so much to do it with a gaping hole in our family.
I’m far too early in this grief process to be giving advice, but one thing I’ve learned is that spending time with family and friends helps. I’m grateful for those who have sat with us through tearful, difficult conversations.
A quick family vacation to the mainland last week to celebrate my father-in-law’s retirement provided proof that I can and will someday be able to do more than just “survive.” I am just starting to see the shadowy new shape of my new life, which will be different. Being around people who love Ian the way we do is a big part of our healing process.
I didn’t think I could ever watch another episode of The Amazing Race. It’s just too much of a painful reminder of the adventure that will never play out for Ian here on earth. But I also know that Ian wouldn’t want me to give up on the little things that made me smile before our tragic loss. So, I watch, I root for my favorite teams, I develop opinions about the various contestants and then, even when tears flow in the middle of the episode because I think that Zach and Ian should do the Race, I allow myself to get lost in the adventure – if even for just an hour.
I pray that in time these tiny, baby steps will help to usher in my “new normal” and maybe through God’s Amazing Grace, I can dream again.
As for Ian, he was undoubtedly eliminated from this race far, far sooner than any of us could have imagined. Yet, if he could, I believe he’d tell us that his journey with family and friends was incredible – it was the most valuable part of his Amazing Race.