My story…though I don’t think it is as much of a story as it is a journey. My journey began May 5, 2011, as you may know. My husband Sean Hickey died suddenly, unexpectedly, and shockingly. His death was something I could never fully describe. It created a tsunami of emotions that rippled through my entire family and all who knew and loved him. My three children, Cam, Regan and Coryn, were completely devastated, as was I. Such losses are completely life-changing, incomprehensible and utterly heart breaking, such that it feels as if your heart is truly being torn apart into millions of pieces, never to be put back together. All dreams are shattered, fears become realities, scares are deepened, hopelessness doesn’t end, and the days and nights just go on. Anxieties set in at uncontrollable levels, then sleeplessness, a deep profound sadness, creating a place where you are present but not truly living. It becomes a nightmare you never wake up from, with a pain that you will carry for the rest of your life. My only hope as a parent is I could carry it all, or carry as much as I could bear, for my children so their pain could be less.
The journey to the unknown, unwanted, frightening, bumpy, distraught, numbing, horrific road begins. It’s not your choice, yet here it is. Though somehow, through the love, kindness, caring and support from those who love you, you survive… minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour and then day-by-day. We began to get a little stronger, a bit more hopeful, becoming less terrified. The road is still bumpy, but you learn to hold on…and there are many hands holding us so when we get knocked down, it’s not impossible to get back up. You realize - which is not the easiest reality - that life indeed goes on. You now have a new life as you desperately hold on to your old life, slowly realizing it will never be what it once was.
And then one day a friend looked at me and said “you need to do this, you need to gain some control.” And she was right. It was time to gain control, to accept this awful reality and start a new foundation.
Gradually you rebuild. As a parent, and a single parent especially, your primary goal becomes your children. How can I give them the life they deserve? I am just one person. How can I be all of it - good cop, bad cop, confidant, friend? How do you show them strength when internally you are in shattered? For me, I found that besides my children, friends and family. That my deep love and passion for fitness, for running, reaching and completing personal goals was where I needed to begin.
I started off very slowly, literally at a crawl. I was fortunate to have a friend who was not only an ultra-runner but a licensed social worker! Our runs became therapy sessions in more ways than one. I felt I was getting a smidge of control back to a life I had lost all control of. After more “therapy” runs, I decided to run the 2012 Boston Marathon, on behalf of the Children’s Room and in honor of Sean’s life. At that time, our family was not yet a part of this amazing organization. We joined the Children’s Room in the fall of 2012 and still currently participate.
I knew TCR would be a place where we would be understood without words, a place where you could cry, be angry, vent - and believe it or not – laugh! A place where everyone just ‘gets’ you the way you are. It has been so beneficial for me and most importantly my children who get to interact with other children who have suffered the same devastating loss. The added extra bonus are the truly amazing families and people I have met. Some have suffered more than one hardship or loss, yet their positive, loving, supportive, caring attitude doesn’t waiver. I am in awe many times from the strength I see and hear.
At the end of each group session all the parents and children gather, and when I look around and see all the kids smiling, laughing, explaining what art and craft project they have completed to honor the memory of their parent, it fills my heart and soul with so many feelings…to see them unite is a blessing, to see them smile and laugh is a gift and to have them honor and talk about and remember their lost parent - that is incredible.
The last three years have taught my children and me so many life lessons. The ones we all know yet take for granted: life is short, unexpected…be happy, love, and laugh. Hate and anger are the most self-destructive emotions. Forgive - it frees your soul. Give without expecting anything in return. Surround yourself with good people who bring out the best in you and you them! Friendship is precious. It’s the little things that mean the most. Live in the moment, because you truly do not know what the next moment could bring. Kindness is free - a small act of it goes a long way. Pay it forward whenever you can. Remember, someone else has it worse than you. We control our actions. Words are weapons - say you are sorry and mean it. Live with little regret. And always always say I LOVE YOU to those you love regardless of your mood or what’s happening at the moment,
This year I am running the 2015 Boston Marathon for The Children’s Room as it is a place that brings sorrow together, but tempers it with comfort and acceptance. I will run this time much stronger emotionally and mentally. (I will let you know about my physical strength after 26.2 miles!) Overall, I am just in a better place and when I finish I will remember how this journey began and knowing that even when I cross the finish line, our journey still continues.
Any monetary donation to this amazing organization would be greatly appreciated. It will help many other families like mine, to get through a hardship no child should have to go through. The Marathon is nothing compared to the marathon these children live every day.
I thank you in advance for your kindness, generosity and understanding.
The Hickey Family,
Deana, Cameron, Regan and Coryn