In my adult life, I’ve stayed overnight at the hospital five times. Each one of those times I’ve come home with a baby, so hospitals don’t really scare me. They changed from places to go see my mother while she received cancer treatment to places of excitement and joy where I met each of my babies for the first time. Even when hospitals were for visiting Mom, they didn’t scare me. I was in high school and actually got along well with her.
What if all our scars and pain could be seen . . . in full view for everyone to see? All our pain we survived, right there on the surface, exposed.
Sometimes I really wish this the case. The games we play to hide the things that could only move us closer to one another, relate to one another, respect one another or understand each other a lot better. Immediately.
The title of my blog is “what is strong?” And I’m going to start by going back.
This is something I’ve heard a lot since starting my half marathon training. I’m asked what’s going on, anything new? “Well, yes! (big smile on my face) I’m training for the half marathon in April.” This is met with quizzical looks, sometimes a slight sideways head tilt and some form of these words come out of the person’s mouth, “Oh…but you’re not a runner.” At times, the inflection goes up at the end, making it sound like a question, “But you’re not a runner?” As if I have completely altered their thinking of what makes me, well, me.
I took my first Spanish class the summer between the seventh and eighth grade. In high school, English was the only other class I took as much as Spanish. In college I took four semesters of it. And as I sit here today, typing this post, I’m as far from speaking the language as you may be from accomplishing your health and fitness goals.
Back in the late 90’s, or as my son likes to say, “back in the 1900’s”, I was leaving the security of a Fitness Director position of a large facility for the second time. But this time it was different. Going full steam ahead in providing for myself and my family, by my own merits. The leap of faith of starting your own company. I started out training ‘on the side’ in the early 1990’s under the name “Royka and Company.” This was a direct reflection upon my father and his consulting company he had when I was growing up. It was very corporate, and disguising the fact that it was just me.
“So how are you doing?”
That’s what everyone asks when they see me now since my 12 year old son, Max, passed away on May 15, 2013.
Max was born perfectly healthy but at 6 weeks of age, he mysteriously contracted bacterial meningitis. After 7 weeks at Vanderbilt Children’s, he came home with brain damage, epilepsy and many other handicaps. Despite his battles, and ours, in caretaking over the years, I refuse to think he had a bad life.
So how am I doing?
It has been 3 weeks and 4 days in the Pediatric Critical Care Unit with my son, Max, fighting for his life. It is something he and I have trained for our entire lives. Him unknowingly, me knowingly. I have experienced his death and the emotions associated with it many times now. Each time like the first. Each time the words used to describe can only pretend to capture at best.
Matt and Jill Royka can attest to that as they're once again faced with the challenges their son, Max Alan Royka is fighting to conquer. If you'd like to follow Max's journey, and send him love, support and prayers, please visit his Caring Bridge page…
I look forward to the new year and the resolutions it brings. Although I think it is important to establish and reestablish goals throughout the year, there is just something special about the first of January that adds to the excitement of setting a new goal for myself. Statistically speaking, I'm not the only one to feel this way, as 45% of all Americans resolve to better their lives this time of year. To be honest, though, I don't know why this number isn't higher. Why aren't more people making resolutions?