by Maddy B…

I never fully understood the stages of grief until now. Upon the news that my senior year and final season as a Division I track and field athlete would be coming to a sudden and premature end, I was in complete shock. Initially, when the news broke that the Spring semester would go fully remote I was shocked, but knew that it was the right decision in order to ensure the health of the community. However, my track season was still a go, so I held onto the fact that I would still have a sense of normality in my life.

When the NCAA announced the cancellation of all athletic activities for the remainder of the year I was in complete denial. It wasn’t until that night as I got ready for bed and began to lay out my athletic clothes for 8am practice the next morning that it finally hit… there was no practice; there were no races; there was no season. I sat on my bed and began to cry as I transitioned to the next stage: pain.

I cried for hours that night. I laid in my bed staring at my ceiling fan as it spun round and round. I finally looked at the clock and it read 4:46am. I finally accepted that sleep would not come. So, I decided to do the one thing I could always rely on to make me feel better– a run. I laced up my shoes and was out the door within 10 minutes. The streets were empty and the air was cool. Tears rolled down my face once again as pain turned to anger. Stage 3.

Now I was angry at the world. I wasn’t necessarily angry because of the pandemic and the cancellation of everything, but I was angry at God for putting another challenge in my path. I had overcome so many obstacles over the course of my life: I recovered from an 8 year struggle with an eating disorder including 3 relapses; I have gotten past being told that I can’t go to high school because I was a liability due to mental illness; I have healed from numerous sports injuries including a pelvic stress fracture in which I was told I may never run again; and I have survived being told to go kill myself because there was no place in the world for a pathetic person like myself. It took many years to finally get to the point in my life where I was healthy, happy, accepted myself and felt like I had a purpose. So, God, “Why me? Why do you keep doing this to me?”

With time, I’ve begun to reconstruct and work through this situation as I adjust to my new normal. I’ve tried to keep my routine as close to as it was at school as possible: wake up, run, class, communicate with friends, repeat. Simple, but having a similar structure gives me the sense of normality that I need right now. I’m now just starting the last stage of acceptance and hope. I’ve accepted the reality of the situation and that there’s nothing I can do to change it. As a Public Health major I know this is the best way to combat the spread of COVID-19 and protect others, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy–but it’s not easy for anyone. We are all in this together. I am now trying to focus on the positives within my life and looking forward towards the next chapter of my life. There are still uncertainties that lie ahead, but I know that we will get through this in time–and that’s what I’ve chosen to look forward to.

Maddy B.. is a graduating senior majoring in Public Health at SUNY Albany.

One Reply to “One Step at a Time”

  1. Thank you for sharing your story. I am so sorry to hear about your season ending, things are already hard enough with our final semester being cut short, let alone your athletic career. I think trying to find the positive right now, is all any of us can do. Recognizing that uncertainty is natural and a normal feeling right now is important. Focusing on the little things and victories- like finishing a puzzle, baking a treat, or even going on a long run are things that have helped me during this time. I finished up my last college volleyball season this fall and saying goodbye to a sport you have competed in for so long can be tough, but it is also exciting to see what the future holds. I hope that you are able to continue to use running as an outlet, something that makes you feel better, to remind you that even though the collegiate competitions might be over, the feeling you get from running isn’t. I wish you the best during this time, thank you again for sharing!

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