Twice in the last five years I've had the responsibility of relaying the news that someone we love has died. Once, to my mother, who's response was, "I'm coming" followed by a dial tone, and just recently to a friend when we lost a mutual friend. I found her disbelief rocked me almost more than the news itself. Her words, "I don't believe it, I'm calling him right now" and a beat or two later, more softly,"but I don't want him to be dead" sat in my head and my in heart, for at least a week. I wrote them down in my orange composition notebook in all caps and I looked at it everyday. I thought about how there just aren't any truer words to be spoken when that kind of news is delivered. Her grief, her anger, put me in touch with my own. I was traveling, somewhere in Delaware I think, when I got the word myself, I kept it together, more easily than I'd like to admit. But later that night confronted with her disbelief, her grief, I pulled to the side of the Interstate 476and sobbed.
During the week, his memorial was held, and our group of runner friends, they honored our friend by showing up at his service in their finest, accessorized with running shoes and leopard print scarves, honoring our beloved runner/caveman. Those that couldn't attend the service interrupted their normal schedules and ran at the appointed hour. I joined them in this, doing my speed work on the hotel treadmill and not caring much that the guy on the bowflex in the corner looked distressed and a little scared when I broke into tears during my last interval. I was remembering a few years back, when he broke 4 hours at the Philadelphia Marathon, and me, unable to attend, tracked him online all morning, screaming loudly enough to frighten the dog, as I watched his splits bringing him closer to his goal, 26.2 in under four hours. He did it.
And I cried alone in my living room, reveling in his success.
The man had a huge heart, a kind word, an open mind, and a smile for everyone he met. He never met a burrito he didn't like, and his perseverance made me a better runner. Proving time and time again, that the only limitations there truly are, are those we put on ourselves, everything else, EVERYTHING else, is negotiable, and in our own hands.
Dammit, Stace, I don't want him to be dead either.