Connecting with God, each other, and ourselves in the broken and beautiful

Chicago Marathon, here we come…

My mom and me last Christmas…

I wanted to get this post out on my birthday as it feels in keeping with how I want to mark and begin this new year. In some ways, I’m placing a stake in the ground of Hope. I’m currently down for the count with COVID (it was a matter of time, but Holy Week for a clergy family, really?!) and I’ve also been nursing a hamstring injury to health. I’m not running in the way I’d expected to be right now. But…”faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things unseen…”

When my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, we were shocked. It didn’t run in her family. She was so young. This wasn’t the path we’d planned, especially after my father’s death to cancer eight years ago.

Alzheimer’s can feel like the great thief, slowly and stealthily taking away memories…it can seem a cloud cover hanging over each effort at connection. But as our family grieves the changes my mom has handled with such grace and strength, God is opening my eyes afresh to some promises.

What is most true and beautiful in our beloved can never be taken away.

Any memories, understanding, and knowledge now hidden are safely tucked in the chambers of God’s heart, waiting for reemergence in light and love on eternity’s shoreline.

Though we may forget, God always remembers.

Though we may feel lost, we are always found.

There can be peace even here.

Running has been a lifeline companion for me since childhood. It’s one place I turn to find myself, to find God. For the last twenty-five years, my greatest joys and sorrows have been kneaded into the soles of my running shoes.

The last marathon I ran was the Boston Marathon of 2013. I was two blocks away from the bombs going off as I met my husband and parents in the family meeting area. I wrote about that experience here.

I knew if and when I ran another marathon, it would need to be for something and someone bigger than me. These recent years have created a crucible I never would have chosen, between the pandemic and all the personal upheaval in our family. And yet, when life feels like an enormous tidal wave, ready to take you out to sea, this is the time to grab the hands of those you love and let those waters come, trusting the One who speaks over waters.

With your support, my brother, sister-in-law, and I will all run Chicago Marathon together this fall. I am running for my mom, but I am running for every single person I love whose heart holds the ache of an Alzheimer’s-touched life.

I will be keeping a list of people and stories as I train. If you have a loved one who had or has Alzheimer’s, I would be so blessed and honored if you would share their name with me that I might run for them. And for you.

All money raised will benefit the Alzheimer’s Association and its work to enhance care, support programs, and research toward treatment and an eventual cure (Please, Jesus!) for Alzheimer’s disease.

To visit my fundraising page for ALZ stars, go here.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Though I know nothing else,

still let me know you. 

And if a morning dawns

when I can no longer name you

or remember to call you,

be more immediately present to me then

than my own confusion, than my own breath.

Be to me a peace and a light

and an abiding sense that I am loved and held

and that all will be well.” 

( From “A liturgy for those facing the slow loss of memory,” in Every Moment Holy by Douglas Kaine McKelvey)

10 Comments

  1. Lynn Rebman

    I absolutely love this post, Arianne! Your perspective on the diagnosis is heartwarming. My mother was a victim of the disease, and although she passed away in 2006, her struggles for the last 8 years of her life are something I carry with me every day. But, even more are the lessons I learned as a result, are also something I carry with me each day. Lauren, as a pre-teen during diagnosis, and seeing how she learned and experienced her grandmother through those years, also was a blessing. While other family members were uncomfortable and tended to “stay away from the situation,” Lauren never hesitated to give her love and complete understanding to my mother, and I am ever so grateful for that…it gave joy to my mother in her world, and made such a difference to all of us. Our prayers are with you and your family. Love is intense.

    • Arianne Braithwaite Lehn

      Thank you so much, Lynn! I am so sorry about your mom, and I am going to be running for her (and for you!). Sending your whole family much love!

  2. Cindy Whitmore

    Thank you for sharing your story and walk. I was a friend of you Mom and Dads and played bells with her at First Pres. My husband Don had the privilege of knowing you during High School days in Sunday school. We moved to Va 15 years ago.
    My Mother, Mardell Hawley lived at Dow Rummel and this same disease and was so well taken care of and loved by their staff. She passed at 96 in December.
    My heart shares your pain as you walk through this challenge.
    My support to you in your upcoming marathon and Happy Birthday to you!! 🎂. Prayers that you are feeling stronger with each new sunrise!!

    • Arianne Braithwaite Lehn

      Thank you so much, Cindy! My love to you and Don, and know that I will be carrying Mardell in my heart as I run!

  3. Cynthia Campbell

    You bring tears tCynty eyes. So beautifully said. Keeping you all in prayer.

    • Arianne Braithwaite Lehn

      Love you, Cynthia!

  4. Angela Oliver

    Tacey’s diagnosis has been difficult for those of us who love her and have relied upon her faith and friendship over the years. I’m thankful her loving spirit and resilience still shine brightly. Thank you for sharing your thoughts in writing. This is indeed a gift that you (and also your dad) have used to help many other people. .

    • Arianne Braithwaite Lehn

      Thank you for loving my mom so well, Angie, and for all your support and encouragement! You and Rob have been such a boost to me with writing, among countless other things.

  5. Glenys Nellist

    Beautiful words, Arianne. Your lovely mum raised a wonderful daughter. How special that you will run for her.

    • Arianne Braithwaite Lehn

      Thank you so much, sweet Glenys! Your encouragement means a lot to me! Bless you!

© 2022 Ash and Starlight

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑