After my mom passed, my sister told me grief would come in waves. As if sharing a secret with her brother that all my other sisters already knew. I’d spent the last year of my mother’s life living with her, sharing the load with my brother. I figured my sister had no idea how I would feel in the future.

Since then, I’ve had wonderful weekends, snowshoeing and hiking with Karen. It’s been so great to be back home. Then, I have wistful weekends where I’m so bothered that I can’t call her as I’ve done for the last two decades of Saturday mornings. Like having a past lover block your profile. The months since have been marked by an undulating melancholy.

As I approach another year around the sun, I thought about how my entire fifties have been a rollercoaster. It began with cancer at fifty-one. As if that didn’t take me low enough, my hair turned gray overnight. Correction, being blonde, let’s agree to call it silver. And there were highs. I’m still looking at the photos of walking my daughter down the aisle. My mother passed in January and I’ll be a grandfather in September.

This current low has me wanting to tackle it head on. I think like a guy. I fix problems. I want change from where I’m at. I love product management but I want a new job. Creating products still satisfies me. I don’t want to stop doing that, but tech just isn’t feeding my soul right now and I have a hungry heart. The idea of working for a non-profit is appealing. Of course, I’m kidding myself. I still have a kid in college. And I doubt I could find a better work culture than with the people I’m working with right now.

Changing jobs would likely be an over-reaction, but I’m managing it in other ways. I’m not drinking every day like I generally would. And I’m trying to limit myself to a single drink when I do. Like sirens to the rocks though, that second drink calls for me. Having these thoughts as I ran today made me recall a time my mother advised me on depression.

I was sixteen and starting to drink on Friday nights with my buddies. She sat down with me one Saturday morning and gave a me long heart-to-heart. She acknowledged that having a close friend die in my arms from a car wreck we were in together over the summer was a hard pill for someone my age to swallow. But I didn’t die then and if I expected to keep living, I needed to change my ways. She didn’t have to remind me of her hardships, but she did say that if she’d ever chosen to wallow in self-pity, it was unlikely I’d be living the privileged life I was currently living. That was so long ago, it’s hard to remember enough of what she said to even paraphrase, but I always think back to it when I hear Bowie’s lyrics, “My mother said to get things done, you’d better not mess with Major Tom.” Mom never tried to be my best friend, but she was always my mother.

I thought of that on my run today. It was the 8 miler on the hilly East Boulder Trail that I attempt each weekend, but always end up walking in the final three miles. With mom for strength, I ran all eight miles today. First time this year. Longer. I thought of another strong woman while climbing the final, massive water tower hill. I thought of my older daughter when I took her on her first fifteen miler in high school. She was in tears on the last three miles of hills. She dry-heaved near the top of the water tower hill. But she ran through that. She never stopped. So I made up it that hill without stopping today. That’s the kind of change I can build on. That’s why I run.