Life is a marathon. Keep running.

Now if that doesn’t sound like an awesome quote, then I don’t know what is. But I found it in the last place that I would ever go for advice. Yet, I found it just in time.

July was not only awful in the weather department, but in my private life as well.

Early that month, I became Mrs. Monique Spencer as I married the love of my life, Gary. Now I should be basking in “honeymoon bliss” right? Wrong.

That night, I received a phone call from my mother who is stationed in Afghanistan.

“So, have you watched the news this week?” she asked.

Confused, I said no. She told me to Google her husband’s name and to stay on the line. As I typed his name, my heart stopped as soon as I pressed “enter.”

There was her husband and another man, both arrested on felony drug charges and both mentioned on local news channels and websites.

I could hear my mom’s cries through the phone. “How could this happen? You think you know someone, huh?” she said.

I grieved with her as she vented. She was married to this man for almost nine years. No one guessed he had involved himself in anything like this.

The next week, my home got water-damaged after a pipe ruptured under the foundation of the house. The city’s utilities department had to shut off our water, forcing my husband and I to spend our first month of marriage in a hotel suite.

But that’s not the icing on the cake. My car got a flat tire while we were out of town, and I was forced to leave it at the hotel. When we returned three days later, my car had been towed. Now I must pay $400 to get it out of the pound.

By mid-July, my heart and soul felt empty. I felt like I had nowhere to turn. I cried for days, not wanting to get out of bed. I asked myself, “Why me? Why? Everything was going well before this.”

One night, my husband caught me crying.

“You can’t feel like a victim when times get bad, honey,” he said. “This is just a true test of faith and integrity alone. Congrats on going through a struggle.”

I was too weak to yell, so I just slammed the door.

The following Sunday, I went to my Buddhist service. The guidance I received there took me by surprise:

“Life is like a marathon, as is faith. Though you may lose the lead in the midst of the race, victory or defeat is decided at the finish line.”

As a former track and field athlete, I could relate. But as a stubborn mule, I resisted.

When I got home, all I wanted to do was sleep my stress away. I opened up my medicine cabinet, and all the contents inside fell out. While cleaning up, I looked at a quote printed on a feminine sanitary wrapper: “Life is a marathon. Keep running.”

Obviously, the universe had spoken and I needed to listen. I spent the rest of that evening in deep thought and prayer.

In early August, I got an email from my Realtor. She found a loft-style home within our price range and move-in ready in Harker Heights. We filled out the paperwork, and are now painting and decorating.

Last Thursday, I got a phone call from an old high school buddy. He sounded upset. His home was burglarized by a family member, and he called asking if he could stay with us for a while. We opened our new home to him.

And the universe just slapped me across the face.

The world doesn’t only revolve around the individual. It surrounds us all. When times get rough for us, the rest of the world still goes on. Still moves. Still pushes. That’s what we should do. Keep going. We should learn through our experiences so we can eventually help others. This is what helps us grow.

So if you are reading this and also going through something in your life: Congrats. We are both going through struggles. Congrats, we are growing together.

Now let’s keep going.

Monique Brand - Herald correspondent​

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