Welcome to the Wandering Drays!

Not all who wander are lost...

Welcome to my blog dedicated to my family and our crazy foreign service life. Never content with staying in one place, we are excited to share our journey. We've survived two unaccompanied tour (Baghdad 2010-2011 and Baghdad again in 2015-2016), multiple TDYs, and enjoyed a two-year family assignment in Cairo, Egypt. The fab hubby is currently learning Turkish for our next assignment...Istanbul, Turkey! We leave for Turkey sometime in summer 2017. I write about what I know. Which is mainly kids, tween drama, gross pets, dealing with lots of government info, our moving adventures, being a nurse, yoga, running, living on too-little sleep, and an addiction to coffee lattes. I hope you'll enjoy this glimpse into our lives.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Running Therapy

Sept 2009.  I had to dig this up from some old photos.
Rusty and me.  Long Beach, CA.
One of my favorite places to run.  And frolic.
Rusty always liked to do both, too.
Running.  It's one of my passions.  When Jason was home on leave, I was able to pound out some extra miles since I didn't have to run with the baby, increasing my distance in preparation for a 1/2 marathon I'd like to run in NoVA in August before our move to Cairo.  My fab in-laws are taking the kids so Jason and I can head out to D.C. together for a few days; he has some stuff to do for State; I'm just tagging along for fun and a run.  Of course, anything that justifies a nice little 4-day weekend away from home with the hubby (NO KIDS) is a great excuse.  We haven't had a vacation alone in years.

But once Jason returned back to Iraq in early-June, I found myself trudging along, just trying to get through the days.  It's been hard; the kids are out of school; I'm working a few more hours in the ER; somehow I'm buried in laundry no matter what I do; Owen has baseball nearly EVERY.BLEEPING.NIGHT.  (But I admit - I love watching him play, and I'm so very proud of him!)

I can overcome all of this; I've done it before.  But the biggest heartache for me is missing our dog, Rusty.

What I've never mentioned is that my last long run (8-miles) was the run I received the call that Rusty had been hit by a car.  I was 7 miles into the run, and more than a mile away from my car. I was high on endorphins and really enjoying my stride, only having had to walk a small bit of it.  Then the call came in on my iPhone.  I had to run as fast as I could to get back to my car.  And I couldn't do it.  I had to walk part of it, and I hated myself for not having the strength to get home to my family, to be there to comfort the kids, to get to the vet with Rusty faster.  It was the longest mile of my life.  My heart aches whenever I think about it.

I didn't run or work out once the entire week after Jason left.  I kept telling myself I was too busy.  Too much going on.  Not enough time.

And I realized I was just making excuses so I could avoid running.  I was trying to forget that moment when I was running and the call came.  Of saying "Hey, honey, what's up?" and Jason telling me I needed to get home as fast as I could.  Oh, awfulness.  If I ran, would I keep reliving that moment?

My mom came over this week for a few days and stayed with me and the kids.  It was nice outside and I could feel the pull, the lure of the pavement.  My feet were aching to move.  I wanted to put on my headphones and stretch out my stride.  Feel the sun on my shoulders.  I laced up my sneakers and told mom I'd been back in about an hour.  That's what it took; I allowed myself that hour to work out my feelings.

Because sometimes you have to look heartache in the face and acknowledge it and accept it. I couldn't avoid it any more.  I hurt; the thoughts tumbled through my mind...Jason had to leave the next AM on a plane back to Baghdad.  Our family didn't get to heal together.   I hurt whenever I think about how the kids reacted when we told them Rusty died.  I hurt whenever I accidentally call our new puppy (Starbuck) "Rusty."  I feel guilty that I love the new puppy so much and that I love her so easily.  I miss my husband terribly, and we've only got a few weeks to go, but the days drag by so slowly at times.  I don't feel strong all the time; sometimes not at all.  And it just hurts.  All these feelings; they washed over me on that run.  But it was so much better than trying to feel numb like I had the preceding week.  I always tell the kids it's not good to bottle up feelings; why do I so easily allow myself to avoid my own thoughts?

I finished five miles that afternoon.  I don't remember it being difficult or easy; I just remember feeling that I had worked out some things in my mind; I remember feeling good.  The next day I laced up the sneakers again, and this time it wasn't so melancholy.  I hit a fast stride and pounded out a quick three miles.  I took some photos along the way, and enjoyed the trail.  I suppose running for me is the best kind of therapy.  I can use it to work out my feelings or my thoughts; I use it to celebrate, or to mourn.  Sometimes I just run to enjoy the run.  Just me, my music, my sneakers, and my thoughts.

Millcreek Park, somewhere between
1/2 and 1 mile into my 3-mile run.

The most inviting trail.

Beautiful running trail.

Almost to the end.

After I finished my 3 miles.
Awesome feeling.


  1. Thank you, everyone, who has emailed me and posted on my facebook about this entry. It was so hard to write it out, to put it out there in print for all to see. Your support means so much to me.

  2. Heather - your post made me tear up. I too lost my beloved dog last year in a tragic accident, and 'normal' life took a long time to come back. It's even harder when your life changed while you were doing something you loved. Great job getting back into running, and I'll be thinking of your family as you grieve and heal (and deal with an unaccompanied tour). Sending lots of hugs your way.