Some day are easy. I get in a routine, I plan things out and they go as expected.
Some days they don’t. Friday I was ready to go to Portland for the 1/2 marathon. I was packed, I’d double and triple checked everything from undies to weekend instructions for SG. It was going to be an easy sort of day.
At 7:30 the phone rang and I heard “Sweetie, I need you.”
It was my friend and her husband was dying. She needed me to come be with her daughters as soon as mine got on the bus. I didn’t know what to say. I wanted to drop everything and run to her but I think I just muttered something about Portland.
She’d forgotten I was leaving and as soon as I reminded her I was on my way out of town, she apologized and said, “No, go. You have to go.” But I was first on her list and she needed me. And I left town. I hate that.
I didn’t really have much choice. Other’s were planning on me going and of course, my friend here wouldn’t have let me stay and skip the trip. I’ve been with her much of the last 6 weeks and have been by her side since I got back but it still bothers me that I left. She is my friend and I would do anything to make life easier for her.
Early Sunday morning, before I woke up to get ready for the race, I had a dream about them. I bizarre haunting dream where her husband and oldest daughter talked to me then quietly walked away. He said he was finally leaving the hospital. My friend was in a beautiful princessy type dress and there was a young man by her side. I didn’t know who he was but he obviously loved her. He seemed like a younger stronger version of her husband.
Her husband called him her knight in shining armour. He walked away with their daughter as the young man and my friend went the other direction. Her husband looked at me back and said she’d be happy and to take care of her.
I woke up knowing in my mind that he was gone. He was. He had passed away late Saturday night. I didn’t find out for sure until much later on Sunday when D1 began texting me. I somehow, through texts, tried to talk her through losing another parent of a close friend. In this case, her best friend from kindergarten.
It was a day of extremes. I walked the 1/2 marathon faster than I’d expected. It was a huge triumph for me but I knew in my heart it was a day of huge loss for people I loved.
I thought about them and others while I walked. I listened to my music and read the shirts of the people around me.
An older man had pictures of his wife at various ages in the same super woman costume printed on the back of his shirt. The words “perfect pose” and “so many years in just one memory” printed above. He was walking for her. In her honor. In her memory.
The tiny little woman with a sign that said “This is my 44th marathon. How about yours?” She was easily 80 and put me to shame as she walked a full to my half. So much strength in that tiny body.
People walking for different causes with photos of people they had lost.
So much emotion in so few hours.
My win among all their loss.
I celebrated. And I grieved.
I talked my daughter through the loss with a confidence I didn’t feel. I cried and texted because I didn’t trust myself to speak. I shared my emotions with friends who love me and who I am so very thankful to have.
Today I wonder how these young girls I love so much, will survive without their father. A father who gave them all necklaces as he said goodbye. Necklaces to remember him but not replace him.
Then I wonder how he did it. How he found the strength to say goodbye. How do we ever say goodbye to those we love knowing we are leaving them in so much pain?
I will go with my friend when she picks up his ashes. The little bit of what’s left of a man who, in life, was such a huge presence. I will hold her hand and cry with her as I try so hard not to think about how difficult and painful his death was. As I try so hard not to imagine my own.
As he passed away, a single tear fell from the corner of his eye.
Many more have followed.