This morning, a lovely woman emailed me to tell me that she was moved by my essay about running a marathon with my sisters after the sudden death of my brother last November. I held my breath for a minute when I got her email, not realizing the piece was out just yet (it’s in the November issue of Whole Living magazine and online here). I knew it was coming out, and I had approved the final PDF, but still, the thought of seeing it in print sort of scares the bejesus out of me. It is, undoubtedly, the most personal thing I’ve ever written because it involves not just me, but my whole family. Writing it was one matter, but seeing it on a magazine page is quite another.  

I pondered this during my run this morning. I thought back to one year ago, when I was in the home stretch of training for the Philadelphia Marathon—a marathon I would never get to do. But I didn’t know that then, as I pounded out an 18-mile-run one October morning, feeling so confident and so ready. I didn’t know that in a few weeks, I’d get a terrible, confused call from my sister, Laura, telling me that our brother, Paul, was dead. I didn’t know that five days before the marathon, my family would be dealt this strange—though not exactly surprising—blow. I won’t rehash the whole essay here because I already wrote it as well as I could for the magazine (you can read a PDF of it here), but the story ends with my sisters and I doing our own homemade marathon on the Sunday morning we were supposed to do Philadelphia—the day after Paul’s funeral.
Sisters & me at mile 8
At my wedding (ponytail is Paul)
With our collages
 As my (very jiggly) postpartum body trudged along the pavement this morning, I also thought about what a year it’s been since he died. How my siblings and I have drawn closer together, and how I’ve stopped kidding myself with the idea that people live forever. I thought about how we were all together at my wedding a few years ago, and how--even then--I wondered how many more times we would all be lucky enough to be together to celebrate something happy.

I thought about how a few months after he died, my sisters and I made these collages to remember the day of the marathon. I thought about how therapeutic crafting actually is, and I know that's one of the main reasons I spend so much time doing it.

I thought about how last year at this time, I had just one baby, and now I have two (I got pregnant with Georgia about two weeks after our marathon). I thought about how much I need my family and how much I need running and how lucky I am to know what I need, and to get it. And I thought about Paul, and how it all should have been different, but wasn’t.  

That’s what’s on my mind today. Thanks for listening.
10/15/2010 10:17:11 am

What a touching story. I'm very sorry for the loss of your brother, but I think it's wonderful how you and your sisters were able to honor him through the marathon and your collage projects. I'm sure you'll treasure those forever.

10/25/2010 06:54:28 pm

I'm not sure how I got here..., but I'm moved by your story. Being from abroad I would have never read the article, but I want to tell you I'm sorry for your loss.
You and your family take the good lessons from this: we don't live forever and it's good to be with your loved ones.

Good luck with the 2yo and your newborn daughter!

11/16/2010 09:34:21 am

I'm so sorry for your loss.
I thought the article was just beautiful and I'm glad you got it out there.


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