Thursday, July 29, 2010

Motorsports as Grief Therapy?

Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images for NASCAR
The following post was written by Skirts and Scuffs contributor Jenny Sigelko during the recent weekend at Gateway International Raceway. Jenny recently lost her mother after a long illness and wanted to share her thoughts on returning to a hobby she enjoys so much.


On behalf of our entire team I would like to express our condolences to Jenny and her entire family. Thanks for sharing your story Jenny and for showing us there are many ways to grieve ~ K

As I stood in the hot sun, in t-shirt & jeans, I exhaled for the first time in what seemed like months. This was my first trip in nearly 4 months, and my first time to relax after my mother’s funeral 10 days prior. I’d spent, along with my dad, nearly every waking moment, apart from work, taking care of my mom. Since her kidneys began to fail in February, she required nearly constant care. Trips away to races were now impossible. Even though I knew the right thing was to care for my mom, it was hard to watch my plans unravel… Nashville, Richmond, Darlington, New Hampshire, Chicago had come and gone. The thought of getting on the airplane for St.Louis kept me companion through her services and the days after.

Even though it was dangerously hot, I didn’t want the day to end. Every lap of the truck race, every lap of Nationwide Series qualifying seemed to help me. Sitting on the back deck of my rental car parked along the back straight, playing ‘armchair crew chief’ gave me the distraction I needed. Debating fuel strategy with friends prior to the Nationwide Series race gave my mind something to think about other than the trauma of the previous weeks. I openly cried when the pastor gave the Invocation as I thought that my mom was now, in my mind, ‘in charge’ of seeing to it that all the drivers arrived safely at the finish line, and all the crews arrived safely at home later. As the Brad/Carl last lap drama unfolded, I had to thank her for a job well done. I listened exclusively to #99 of Trevor Bayne during the race, and by the end I felt excited and happy for their finish. For a few minutes, I had actually put my grief out of my mind to focus on the OUT! Pet Care driver and crew. As I watched my old K Automotive associates tear down in post-race inspection, I realized that I would not have felt this good if I hadn’t had this opportunity; if motorsports were not my hobby.

I said goodbye to friends after a long day in the heat. I’ll miss my mom until I die, and I still haven’t gone a day without a good cry, but being at Gateway renewed a passion for a sport that had to take a back seat to other things.

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