Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Her Way

The formidable building of Kaiser Hospital came out as I turned the corner. Its location is quite isolated. It stands on a wide expanse of land with no other huge structures around it. And the way to Kaiser from any direction is rather uneventful until you see its modern edifice.

I ran the 1.5 mile distance to Kaiser from our house with my late wife in mind.  We traversed this way too many times for her treatments, doctors' visits, to pick up prescriptions, and quite a handful of times, trips to the emergency department.  The Kaiser Hospital was a frequent destination.  But unlike the image of sickness and ailment associated with a hospital, my wife saw the hospital as the way to her wellness.  She was always calm and collected when she makes her hospital visits.  I don't remember an occasion she feared going to the hospital.  Even the times I took her to the Emergency, she was always ready to go.  

As I rounded the Kaiser grounds and gazed upon its impressive size, I remember one quality that she exuded during her cancer journey -- her courage.  Her courage to fight cancer was heroic.  Her courage to survive in the midst of suffering was resolute .  And her courage to accept her illness as part of her life was full of faith.  That was the kind of courage she had.  That was her way.

I turned around to head back home and looked at Kaiser over my shoulder one more time. I'm going to miss taking my wife here.  But I will surely keep this route in my training runs.  It's her way.

Her Way

The modern structure of Kaiser Hospital came out as I turned the corner.  It stood on a wide expanse of land with no other buildings around it.  Only the horizon stood in the background.  The way to Kaiser

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Beautiful Run

It was my first run after her death.

I told myself I was going to do it.  When the time came to get ready, I did not hesitate.  I went into our bedroom and wore my gear and laced my shoes.  I paused in between to glance at her side of the bed, took a deep breath, and finished dressing up.  Everything I was doing brought back so much memories.  But then I remembered what she told me in one of my training runs.  "Go and God bless you!  Come and see me as soon as you return.  I love you."

It was beautiful outside.  A warm late afternoon sun came to greet me.  There was a gentle breeze blowing in the quiet neighborhood.  The surroundings seemed so bright and cheery.  Then I slowly took off to run.  I haven't gone too far and I already felt exhilarated.  I kept going and not too long, another runner was approaching and greeted me.  Then shortly afterwards, a second runner came and gave me a happy nod.  In one stretch of the road, a very good friend of mine saw me and literally jumped out of his car and gave me a big hug.  I continued running with a smile in my face.  Then it just came to me - my wife is with me.  She was with me.  It felt humanly real that awareness of her presence as I ran.  I kept going for the next five miles and all I sensed was beauty and grace.

After the run, I drove to the cemetery and went to see her.  It was almost twilight and the day was still beautiful. I stood by her grave marker and looked up the sky. I looked at the horizon and just felt at peace.  I thanked God for the beautiful run. I love you, Love!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

She Has Crossed the Finish Line

Aura Jane "Jinky" Cumagun
It is with deep sadness that I announce to you the passing of my dearest wife, Aura Jane "Jinky", after a long-fought battle with breast cancer for 11 years.  She was 42.  She was a runner.  She also did a 40-mile walk for breast cancer.  In one of her 10k runs on Father's Day 5 years ago, she had trouble breathing and was coughing a lot.  We found out later that her cancer has spread to her lungs.  But she finished that race!  The cancer also spread to her bones, liver, and brain.  The cancer debilitated her physically but never spiritually.  She still worked out the best she can, believing that she can outlive the disease, with good exercise and eating habits.  She also devoted her remaining years in prayer.  She prayed when she is resting and she conserved energy to be able to go to church.  She also went with me in a lot of my races to cheer me and meet me at the finish line.  Last year, she became weaker and couldn't come to many of my runs.  But she inspired me to take her thoughts, and prayers intentions.  "Just think about me and pray for me as you run," she said.  And thus was born the prayingrunner. 

During her final days, she dug deep.  Every breath was labored.  Her body was exhausted, but she kept going.  Then finally at 1:55 am on March 18th, she crossed the finish line.  She is victorious.  A triumph of the will to live.  And driven by the hope of eternal reward at the end of the race.

I love you so much, Jinky!  I will miss you terribly.  But now, you will not miss a single run or race I will do.  Every road, every hill, every turn, I will see you smiling at me, inspiring me, and praying for me, until one day, you will again meet me at the finish line.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A Different Race

With my wife at home from the hospital
 I missed the Napa Valley Marathon on March 8, 2011.  I have not run for 10 days.  I will be unable to run today.  But I am running a different "race".

The weekend of the marathon I brought my wife to the Emergency and was eventually admitted to the hospital due to hallucinations.  After a few days of fluid and antibiotic infusion, the doctors informed that my wife's health is declining fast because of the cancer metastases to her liver and lungs. Her prognosis does not look very good.  After 5 days in the hospital we have decided to take her home and start hospice care.  Rather than treating her cancer, the goal is now to provide her comfort and dignity.

The last few days have totally changed my routine, specially my training runs.  I have 0 mileage and have been spending my time on my wife's bedside.  But I am still a praying runner...running a different race.  It's my wife's race to the finish.  She is fighting a good fight but she needs me.  And I will run this race with her.  The truth is all my marathon trainings are being put into good use.  Sleepless nights, long days of watching her and giving care yet with short rest then start a new day.  Like a marathon, you keep going until the finish, thinking of resting after crossing the line, then getting ready again to train for your next race.

Nope, no mileage for awhile.  But still running.  Running a "race" to rest in God - for my wife.