Our Muscles Hold Memories

There once was a runner I knew who had taken a lot of time off but decided to do a marathon within weeks of returning to the streets. I was curious how this was going to occur without injury, without pain. He said he was relying on muscle memory. His muscles, he said, knew what to do. To myself, I chuckled. My experience in preparing for a race was to actually run, to actually put the time and energy into training the muscles to handle the distance.

I’ve had to take significant time off running in the last year and a half due to several pesky set backs. But slowly, I am regaining longer runs and less pain, but it has felt at times—to pardon the cliché—all up hill. Today though was different. I went out in warmer than normal temperatures and my body picked a pace that while slow was comfortable. So comfortable I felt I could continue much longer than I had planned. It was as though those muscles of mine had a memory that said, Oh, yeah I remember this we put one foot in front of the other and keep going.

If it is true that our muscles hold memory then I have to believe our largest muscle has infinite ability to recall and contain memory. This past week two friends lost a parent. My one friend lost his mother. She was a lovely women who never met a stranger, was open to all possibilities, and exercised well into her ninth decade. A life well lived, memories well created. My other friend lost his father, a man who moved from the north to be near his son and his family. A man who became steeped into his grandchildren’s lives and the lives of those who came to know him.

While losing a parent is the natural order of things, the natural order also follows that our hearts hurt when that loss occurs. That large muscle is perhaps the strongest of all we have because it must endure so much that is both joyful and sad. That muscle of ours allows us to open to love and to loss.

Even though my parents passed several years ago, my heart easily recalls how my mother held my hand, called my name, sang many songs. She makes me smile even though those days have long faded. We all recognize the gratitude for having these people touch our lives, but when we lose them the hurt is that much more wrenching. There are days when the grip of sadness envelops and we wonder how to go forward. How will we ever get used to the carrying the weight of the grief? Somehow it happens, a muscle kicks in and we put one foot in front of the other and we keep going.


  1. Jean Moxley says:

    First time you’ve made me cry, I think. What beautiful writing! I was going right along with you about muscle memory because I’ve been told, and have experienced muscle memory with harp playing. Then you took a turn to (hopefully) our big muscle and really caught me off guard and vulnerable in a very good way. What amazing writing! Love you and your writing.

  2. Huwaida says:


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>