Life changes you when someone close to you dies. It’s almost as if in some way, somewhere deep down inside of you dies with them, but in another way, it’s as if a part of you awakens. To some, that awakening may not be noticible because of the fact that life just gave them this terrible blow and they believe that somehow it would be “wrong” for them to live life when their loved one just died, therefore, that little flame that may have sparked an awakening gets extinguished. Many people are like that after someone they loved passes – they feel guilty for being alive, for being happy, for moving forward. Here’s my take. Here’s what I believe. I believe that those that have died would NOT want us to be guilty. I believe that they would want us to move forward and carry on with life. I don’t believe that they would want us to forever mourn their death, feeling guilty that we’re still alive while they are not. I believe that they would have want us to remember happier times with them, and to cherish the time that we were able to spend with them while with us here on Earth. I believe that life should be celebrated, and regardless of the death of one’s loved one, it should not be perpetually mourned.
My father was not one of “those” people. His unexpected passing on Valentine’s Day, 2008, reached down and shook my core. It was a wake up call of sorts that I should have heeded long, long ago. You see, I always believed that my father would live forever, and I took him for granted. I never believed that his life would just end so abruptly, leaving me to regret things I never said that I should have told him, and just leaving me with a feeling of rawness that I had never experienced. I didn’t like that feeling. However, knowing my father, I knew that he would not want me to feel guilty. I believed that he knew what was in my heart, that he knew that I never meant to hurt him with my callousness, that I loved him dearly, and I knew that he loved me.
My father had suffered from leukemia since 2004. I never believed that diagnosis. Don’t ask me why … call it my defense mechanism or whatever you want to call it, I just couldn’t fathom it. I guess I just wanted it to go away. It’s funny for me as a nurse to say that … I know that things don’t just go away and disappear. This didn’t. It wouldn’t. It stayed. For four years, my father fought the good fight. He learned this disease inside and out. He asked questions of all his doctors, all his friends who were doctors, anyone who had the same disease or similar. He researched. When he died, and we were going through his belongings, I saw all of his handwritten notes, highlighted articles, collected lab results, doctors findings … and it made me sad that he fought so hard and lost.
When the opportunity arose to enter a lottery to run a marathon shortly after he died, I only entered because never in a million years did I think I would be one of the chosen. As my father did, I played the lottery every week, sometimes twice a week, for years and I had never won. I thought I would only enter the lottery for the half-marathon, but my husband, who knows me so well, stated that I would finish the half and say that I could’ve run the full thing. So, I placed my name in the full marathon lottery. Imagine my surpise when I received the email that stated, “Congratulations! You have been selected to run!” What the heck? I laughed! What else could I do? I just laughed because there was nothing that I could do about it now, I was selected. Not being one to shirk off a challenge that I had gotten myself into, I would run it! When I learned that it was a marathon benefiting the Leukemia Lymphoma Society, I knew that it was a sign.
My father had always know that I had a passion for running. As a high school track and cross-country runner, I can remember him cheering me on in the stands. I knew he was proud of me because I heard how he spoke of me to his friends and relatives. He believed in me. So when this opportunity to run the Nike Womens Marathon, Benefiting The Leukemia Lymphoma Society arose, I knew that I would rise to the occasion and run for my beloved father. I had a sinking feeling that my father had much to do with my name being selected to run … remember, he knew my passion, believed that I was strong, and he always wanted me to win the lottery!
For a third year now, I am honored to once again run for my father. As I have said time and time again, running a marathon is definately much easier than the fight that he was up against with leukemia. I believe that my father would not want others to suffer as he had, and I will help as best as I can to raise funds and awarness.
Thank you, Dad, for waking me up. Know that your passing was not in vain, and that I will fight hard to raise awarness and funds for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society. I love you, and I miss you.