There are times when things get quiet. It’s a time to reflect… on things that are important, on those that help shape who we are.
I could be writing about my Michigan marathon, the Detroit Free Press Marathon, that I raced on Sunday. This is a running blog, after all. I could tell you all about the course, the aid stations, the people, how I felt from start to finish. I could give you mile by mile breakdowns of the race as it unfolded. I think in time that report will come, but right now, its not what’s important.
My grandfather had a stroke on Friday. I had just arrived to town the night before, to prepare for Sunday’s race. I spent Friday afternoon in the hospital in Monroe, holding his hand, talking to him and feeding him butterscotch pudding. His right hand was so strong, remarkably strong, and he clenched mine like he didn’t ever want to let go. It was as if he thought that if he let go, he’d fall- to where, I didn’t know. He told me stories in a slurred voice, yet the stories were clear and precise. They were stories of the Golden Gate Bridge, of watching me race in track meets, of visiting all sorts of different places. I told him I’d be running to Canada on Sunday, and he told me about the people he heard of that jumped off the Ambassador Bridge. He asked how my running friends were doing, and he was excited to hear they’d be running with me on Sunday. I left Monroe knowing, but not knowing, what was going to come next.
I raced on Sunday but something didn’t feel right. It wasn’t that I didn’t sleep well, or eat well. I didn’t feel sick or sore. My legs just didn’t want to move the way I thought they would. I considered stopping and cheering on the other athletes but I kept on. I walked a bit, I turned around to see if Adam was catching up, and I struggled through a few miles where all I wanted to do was sit on the grass and watch the other athletes go by. Adam passed me and I couldn’t go with him. I’ve never felt so tired in a race. I finished, though…
But I didn’t care about my race. I didn’t care what my time was, where I finished. The first thing I thought of when they put the medal around my neck was my grandpa. The ribbon was red-white-and-blue, something he’d have got a kick out of. I was excited to tell him about it, to put the medal in his right hand so he could feel its weight.
My grandpa didn’t get to hear about my race, though. He passed away before I started. He lived an amazing life, eighty-five years of adventures and stories. I know that no one can live forever, but I know that he’ll continue to live on in the hearts of his family and friends. I know that I am going to keep asking questions, just like he always did; I’m going to keep learning and helping and sharing, just like he always would. And sometimes, it will get quiet, and that’s ok. That’s when it is time to sit, think, and formulate new questions. Remember good stories. And reflect on the lives that have gripped our hearts.