Monday, October 10, 2016

New Journey

Instead of completing a goal this weekend, I'm beginning a new one. I shouldn't be, but I'm always surprised when my best laid plans go off the planned course. But really, isn't that what makes life interesting? 

I had planned, for the past 10 months, to run a half marathon this weekend. Instead, I injured my back a few months ago. Instead of running my race, I went back to PT...back to exercises that seem too easy, back to pain, back to frustration. I forget that I have limits and that I need to respect them and that there's work I need to do to increase those limits. So, instead of completing my half marathon goal, I have a new goal of rebuilding mileage while not ignoring core and leg strength. I'd like to be back up to 10 miles by the time there's snow on the ground. We'll see if the weather agrees...

Honestly, it hasn't been a good 6 months since Ella got sick and the back injury felt like the cherry on top. And it feels like it's only going to get worse before it gets better. I feel like there's this laundry list of things happening to me. I feel like a victim. I'm working on that separately, but today, I got a taste of feeling like myself again. Today I got out there and went running again. It wasn't my first run since the injury, but it was the first when I got back out to one of my favorite routes. I got myself out to the river and the trails. I felt free, I felt cared for, I felt light. Even as I'm rebuilding cardio and my throat burned as I gulped air into my lungs, it's the best I've felt in months.

One of my favorite running paths along the Charles River

That running a path is a journey is not lost on me. Clearly, I'm on a journey. I don't yet know where it's leading me, but all that's going on isn't just happening to me, or around me, but for me. This path is mine and it has a purpose. Somehow it's leading me somewhere new. Somewhere I am meant to be; perhaps to something I never knew I always wanted.

Just as a running path has a beginning, just as my new goals are beginning, so does this new journey that I'm on. New running goals are at once painful and beautiful. Only, it's often difficult to see the beauty through the pain and the blistered feet. I imagine this journey will be no different. I am fearful as I move towards this unknown and I am hopeful. I am fearful because I feel as though I have no control over the journey or outcome. I have hope because I know that I have a network of people to help me; my village. They will catch me. They may not even know that they're doing it, but they will catch me.

When I run trails, I can't see the end from the beginning, nor can I see the end of this journey now. I know it's there. I don't know what it looks like, just that it's going to be OK and that I should try to avoid tripping over the roots and rocks. If I do trip, I'm pretty sure that someone in my village knows first aid. 

Sunday, April 10, 2016


Ella Patenaude
June 20, 2007 - April 8, 2016
Ella passed away on April 8, 2016. He was diagnosed with renal lymphoma that had spread throughout his chest. I had so many names for Ella, The Fuzz was probably my favorite of all those names. I told him from the day I met him that everybody loved him, even those who had never met him. I've said that Home is wherever Ella is. As much as a person can be a home, he was my home. 

The day I brought him home, he was this little ball of fuzz, like a fuzzy black marshmallow. He was brought to me at work, so I grabbed a small cardboard box to carry to him home in. My heart was his from those first moments. 

If you've ever seen me with him, you know that he owned me. Not the other way around. Ella was perfect and could do no wrong in my eyes. He loved jumping up into the window to have breakfast with the birdies and stalk the college kids. 

Ella was found abandoned in Southie, on L Street. The person who found him was calling him Elle, thinking he was a girl. I think a name should have at least 2 syllables and began calling him Ella. It was weeks before I discovered she was a he! I cried because now I had to live with a boy. It certainly didn't change my love for him, nothing could. From that day forward, the phrase 'Ella is a boy' was commonly heard from me.

As soon as he was grown enough, he discovered that he could get a better view of life from atop my dining table. Of course, I let him. It's pointless to try to stop a kitty from getting up there anyway. At 5 months old, he had his "surgery". They asked me to limit his movement until he healed. Ha! Limit the movement of a 5 month old kitten. That's precious. 

My favorite time of every day for so many years has been that moment when I would come home and Ella would greet me at the door. I'd pick him up and he would begin purring. He was a loud purrer!! And he was a social kitty. Whenever I had friends over, he was right there in the middle of the event, checking everything out, letting everyone pet him. When he was done, he'd go nap on their coats in the bedroom, only to emerge again later before everyone left. 

When he discovered the window and the birdies, he could be found there each morning for breakfast with his friends. He would nap there in the summer sunshine, and watch the snow in the winter. Perhaps my favorite time watching him in the window though, was each spring when it was warm enough to open the windows for the first time. He loved having all the sounds and the smells back!

Most people don't know this, but Ella and I would chase each other like crazy people around the apartment. He would race back and forth, I would chase him. When he ran into the bedroom, I'd follow and we'd both leap onto the bed. Then he'd dart out of the room, just like kitties do. 

When I needed a new bedspread, or couch cover, I always looked for dark colors. You know, cat fur. Even on vacation with my mom in Amish Country. I was excited to buy a real Amish quilt...and bought one in deep greens and plum. His fur was everywhere! There was no stopping it. Especially in spring and summer. I regularly had to vacuum that quilt, just to get the fur off of it. And of course, like so many kitties, he was terrified of the vacuum. Even this morning when I ran it, I called out to him that it was time to run and hide until Mommy was done. 

On occasion, I'd bring Ella to work with me. I'd schedule his doctor appointments in the afternoons specifically so that he could come with me. I'd shut the door and he'd spend the whole day with me in the office. He loved being able to explore a new place and look out new windows. I didn't really get much done on those days, but it was quality time with My Little Man.

I loved that Ella let me hold him so often. He didn't like to be held if I was sitting, but if I was standing, held let me hold him for ages. When he was a kitten, I'd hold him to my chest so that he could feel my heart through my chest. 

Almost a year ago, I discovered that Ella was a computer science genius. I bought a new computer and, like many cats, he loved sitting on it. More often than not, he would flip it into airplane mode. He would start different applications and programs and on a couple of occasions, he would do something so mystifying, that a straight up hard reboot was necessary to undue them. He even enjoyed sleeping on the closed laptop when it was powered down. Thanks to Ella, my personal laptop and my work laptop are covered in dried cat spit. Gotta love how he always helped me work.

I have many wonderful memories of he had his spot on the bed, how he'd sometimes jump onto the side of the tub while I showered, how much he loved playing in the hallway of my building, how he'd play with the strings of my jammies while I peed. However, one of the funniest memories I have of him is when I was peeing and he climbed into my underwear and fell asleep! He was just a baby then, but he never stopped pulling my pants down to my ankles while I sat on the toilet.

I won't share any photos of him here from when he was sick. This is to celebrate his life. He carries a piece of me with him today and will always be my home. My memories of Ella are beautiful times. He was with me through every victory and every challenge. Just by being him, he made my life better. He made the good times better and bad times less difficult. Ella taught me about unconditional love and what a privilege it is to care for another. I am filled with gratitude when I think about how incredibly lucky I am to have known him, to be on the receiving end of a rescue kitty saving me. Yes, The Fuzz saved me. I love him, and the world is a little less for losing him. 

You and me, baby boy, you and me.