Below is a guest blog from my sister. She was there every step of my day on Sunday, as well as every step of my journey to get to Wisconsin. She asked that I share this note with everyone and I must oblige since she knows where I live. I only hope that everyone has someone in their own lives who is this special to them. And if you do, please squeeze them extra tight tonight or surprise them with a call. It is so very, very important.
It is true that we never see ourselves the way that others do so I thought it was important for me to pen a small “guest column” to give everyone a different side of Jayme’s story. Over the past year or so I have been coming to this website to drink in the thoughts and feelings of my sister as she sets out on a journey that many people never meet. Some would say the journey began a few months ago with the first swim, others might say it all started the day she signed up for the race, and still others might say that it started with the first whisper of the idea that this could be a possibility. But it started well before that- well before all of that. I can say with complete certainly that us Murray girls have never been easy to understand -- easy to look at -- but never easy to understand. :) We have a heart that beats just like everyone else but what drives those beats are unique to us. Our emotional journeys and family tragedies have require a level of self-reflection and introspection that most people go a whole lifetime without.
As a family of academics and intellectuals most of our “milestones” has been educational in nature…so you can imagine our surprise when Jayme announced that she was going to train for an IronMan. I will be honest -- I was not sure what she was talking about so in my academic way I went to the computer to do research on what exactly the IronMan is…and then I saw this: 2.4 Swim, 112 Bike, 26.2 Run. Ummmm -- what? I was shocked -- why would anyone want to do this thing! I just could not wrap my head around it -- didn’t Jayme know that she didn’t need to kill herself to prove that she was strong. For the past few years Jayme has been proving that she is a strong woman with a will of iron every day. I am not sure how much Jayme has said about the events that lead up to her starting this blog but perhaps a little background would help. My sister was/is an alcoholic -- trust me this is nothing new in a family that wears it tolerance like a badge of honor. I never really thought of my sister this way but looking back I see that Jayme had the same tendencies of most alcoholics -- BUT there is one thing that distinguishes her, at least in my mind, from others with this disease -- it was the manner in which she got help. Like everything in her life -- my sister chose to do things on her terms. She stood up and was honest not only with herself but with all of those around her about her illness. Think about this for a second. How often are we really truly honest with ourselves and others about our demons? If you say you always are…well then you are probably not being honest with yourself right there. It was Jayme who said she had a problem, Jayme who decided when and where to seek help, Jayme who set the terms while the rest of us fumbled around trying to think of something helpful to say. Jayme stood up one day decided to come out of the shadows and into the light on her own two feet and by her own volition.
I wanted to tell everyone how proud I was of what she had done. I wanted to shout from the rooftops that I had the strongest sister alive. But the nature of alcoholism does not lend itself to that. Had my sister beat cancer I would be able to join a race/walk and put a pink ribbon on my car that said survivor. But there are no walks for recovering alcoholics, no ribbons, no tee-shirts, or signature colors. I was never really sure whether my sister was aware that what she had done was truly amazing. As I sat in family group at the recovery center I heard the tales of other families who had begged, screamed, dragged their love one out of the darkness and were fighting to keep them in the light. Everyone but me -- my sister came willing. I don’t think Jayme knew then that her accomplishment was rare. In one of my sister’s first posting she wrote the following: “But it’s also part of the continuum of a larger picture – of a flawed adult with stubborn good intentions, much she feels she needs to repair and honor…” I never thought of my sister as a “flawed adult” any more so then the rest of us. In some way I think that it was her feeling that she had been weak or let us down with her illness in a way she needed to repair -- but she had not -- far from it -- she had proven that her strength and ironclad will were no match for something that rips families apart and destroys lives. I have always, and will always, focus on her amazing recovery and her bravery. I stand in awe of her -- beyond that of a big sister -- but as a person, a woman, and a friend.
I guess I should not have been surprised when Jayme decided to top off her recovery with the hardest physical race a person could enter. Most people would think that the struggle with sobriety would be enough -- but Jayme is not one of those people. She trained and trained and trained -- when it was cold outside and her bed was warm -- she went to the YMCA and swam. When her body first past a point it had never reached before -- she kept going. When her legs cramped and her knees bled and her lungs screamed -- she kept training. With each day and each step she left behind a life that was killing her and slowly but surely a belief in herself was reborn. We have all commented on this site that the IronMan is more about the journey then the destination and in her heart I know that Jayme knows this to be true.
On Sunday I went to the IronMan store and I purchased a t-shirt that says “IronFan” and I plan to wear it with pride…not because it symbolizes a race that many enter and only a very few ever complete -- but because of the journey it has taken to get there…a journey that was much longer and much harder than 140.6 miles. In the way of the Wizard of Oz -- through all of the thousand of miles that Jayme has biked, the laps and laps of water she has swum, and all of the road that she has tread beneath her feet -- we went all the way to Wisconsin to find something I already knew…my sister is truly an IronMan.
I can’t thank Jayme’s blogging family and the people who check this site regularly enough for all of their support of my sister. Thank you.