When my mum was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer on June 15 2012, she was given, at best, five years to live. Coming into 2017 I was prepared for any eventuality.
It was also the year I turned the big three-oh.
My 29th year was ridiculously nondescript, but when I think about it, it is not that surprising. Numbers have character, personality and history. There is a reason so many people have a favourite number. A reason why numerology is a thing. I find 29 such an unremarkable number, and my 29th year passed by as blandly as its counterpart.
I wound up my 29th year being a bridesmaid at my best friend’s wedding. I had never been a bridesmaid before and I was the most excited. Watching her say yes to her new forever best friend is one of the greatest moments of my life. Never have two people been more suited to each other and it was an honour to be part of her inner circle on such a momentous day. Six days later I turned the big three-oh.
I always knew my 30th year would be monumental. Call it female intuition or whatever, but past the half mark of my 29th year I could feel something inside me fighting to break free. I was unsettled, and beautifully so. I knew I was on the cusp of something. And just like a woman always is, I was right. Lol. Initially this thing fighting to break free felt innocuous, in the way I am sure most people feel when they approach a milestone age. But the closer I got to 30, what initially was a faint stirring morphed into a raging storm. I knew I could no longer remain constant.
I prefer to set my yearly resolutions not on New Year’s Day but on my birthday. I did not set resolutions on my 28th and 29th birthdays as my mum was desperately unwell for the majority of those years. I could barely think about next week, let alone next year. But with 30, I knew things would be different. I do not know how to explain it, I just knew I could not be surer if Jesus himself told me.
Four weeks after my 30th birthday, I got to meet the maester himself Biko Zulu at Masterclass XII. I had toyed around with the idea of attending a masterclass a number of times before, because writing is my talent and I wanted to improve my skill. But, procrastination. When the twelfth edition presented itself two weeks after my 30th birthday, I registered immediately.
Six weeks after my 30th birthday, I moved out of home for the first time, and to a dope ass place. As in, my place is amazing. Spacious AF with lots of natural light. Sometimes I just look around my apartment and marvel at how beautiful it is.
Sixteen weeks after my 30th birthday I ran my first half marathon. Try as I might, I cannot pinpoint where the zeal to run the 14th edition of the Standard Chartered marathon came from. My mum had attempted to run StanChart before, but she did not finish. And I totally get why. It is the most difficult thing I have ever done. Though if I am being honest I barely trained. For 13 weeks or so I clocked an average of 15 kms a week. This was when I was still living with my mum. Then I moved out of home and did not run for three weeks, resuming my training five weeks before the marathon, running a measly 12 kms a week.
I am not an avid runner. I hate waking up early to exercise. I would much rather be sleeping. I hate how I feel as I jog. What I do like is how I feel after, both physically and mentally. Jogging is especially important for my mental health. It clears my head of the millions of things that plague it when I am sedentary. It is kind of hard to think about how unfair life is when your chest is on fire.
I am not an avid runner but I had to finish the marathon for two major reasons. The first was that if I could not handle 21 kms, how was I going to handle life without my mum? Quitting was simply not an option. My mum was hospitalised the Sunday before the marathon and I wanted so badly to show her my medal. It ended up being her last hospital stay so that medal is one of the most valuable things in my life.
The second reason was metaphorical. As much as 30 had started out well, I knew it would not last because my mum would die soon. What is more difficult than that? This decade will be my toughest but I am also convinced it will be my greatest. Amazing things will happen to and for me this decade and I wanted to literally hit the ground running.
I am not running the marathon today. I have not trained for it. I will talk about why in due time. That does not mean I am out of the race. After all, running can be looked at as one big metaphor for life. I will leave you with the words of Arthur Blank, co-founder of The Home Depot.
I run because it’s so symbolic of life. You have to drive yourself to overcome the obstacles. You might feel that you can’t. But then you find your inner strength, and realize you’re capable of so much more than you thought.