The Bench That Gave Me Hope

When my younger brother Scott passed away, I struggled to find the motivation to do anything. I was entering into my second year of college but I felt like I was constantly moving through a thick fog. I experienced everything so intensely yet I struggled to simply get out of bed. I felt like a walking zombie.

I avoided running into people I knew because they'd either heard that my brother passed away and wanted to tell me how sorry they were or I'd run into someone and have to answer their enthusiastic, "How was your summer!?!" with, "My brother died. So not the best. How about you?"  

Despite how hopeless I felt every moment of every day, there was something that used to bring me an ounce of happiness that I never thought I'd experience again. 

Disneyland.

IMG_4905.JPG

 It sounds trivial, but I used to grab a book or my journal and go to Disneyland by myself on the days that I felt especially grief stricken and devastated. Sometimes I'd bring a friend if I felt like I wanted company but I'd sit on the same bench and watch families stroll by laughing and enjoying their time together at the happiest place on earth. 

It wasn't until this past Monday morning, when I was on my way up to Disneyland to be with a woman I call my other Mom and my best friend, that I remembered the time I spent on my bench. This trip to Disneyland has been bittersweet because it was a last minute trip together before this woman who I call my other Mom starts chemotherapy for cancer. Something that was only just discovered a few days ago. 

Cancer is a difficult one. Having lost my brother, I refuse to grieve because we haven't lost her. She's still here. And it's easy to want to give in to the fear and sadness but why waste the time we have anticipating an outcome that hasn't happened? We're fighters. We've been through a hell of a lot together and I know that what will happen, already has.

We're here. We're happy. We're all together. 

Life is meant to be lived to the fullest, whatever that means to you each day. Sometimes that means getting out of bed and sitting on a bench crying until you can't cry anymore. Sometimes that means picking up and going on an adventure of a lifetime. As long as you're doing everything you possibly can with the people you love in the time you have, that's all that matters. 

Life is hard. Don't waste a single minute. Be sad. Be happy. Be grateful. Don't just survive, thrive. 

Fuck you cancer, you don't know who you're messing with. 

Until next time, #RunSelfieRepeat.  

3 Comments

Kelly Roberts

It all started when a silly joke made headlines back in 2014 when I took selfies with hot guys “hottie hunting” my way through the New York City Half Marathon. But ironically enough, I haven't always been a runner. As the self-proclaimed former President of the "I f*cking hate running club", I spent most of my life finding ways to avoid physical activity. Growing up, I missed over 70 days of PE my senior year. Working out was something I thought I had to suffer through in order to lose weight. 

Then, in 2009, my younger brother passed away unexpectedly and struggling to manage my grief, I gained more than 75 pounds. With the weight gain came a new fight to regain my sense of self and learn to love the body I saw when I looked in the mirror. Then one Thanksgiving morning, drowning in grief and self doubt, I decided to go for a run. I didn't make it half way down my street before I had to stop to walk but for some reason, struggling forward made more sense than getting back into bed. It turns out that running is a lot like grief, neither ever really get easier, you just get stronger. 

Over time, I realized that while some people are in fact born runners, others are made. I created this blog Run, Selfie, Repeat and my new podcast by the same name with the hopes to inspire others to say yes to themselves while making them laugh hysterically because laughing, in my opinion, is the solution to everything. 

Named by Women's Running as one of twenty women who are changing the sport of running and by Competitor Magazine as one of 12 Influential and inspiring runners under 30, my mission is to inspire others to get embrace a healthy lifestyle and pursue the strongest version of themselves possible.