UPDATE: Warning: later in this post I will claim that a 5K walk = 5 miles. I have no idea why. I didn't think, I just typed. I do realize that 5K does not = 5 miles. I just decided it does because my brain does that sort of thing. I need medication, obviously.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~We grew up just down the road from each other. We've often joked that the country song that goes something like, "there were 700 fence posts between your place and mine and neither one of us was old enough to drive a car...," was written just for us.
This friend is a very big part of my heart. How do you sum up nearly 30 years of friendship (and counting) with stories and words?
You can't. So I will simply tell you that this friend stole a part of my heart when we were very young, while that heart was looking for lifetime friends. I'm happy to have had her keep that part all this time, and I know she always will.
Not long after college, I was having trouble finding myself so I moved back to our small home town and floundered around for a while. I spent a lot of time with my childhood friend and her long-time boyfriend. They welcomed me home. My friend became a teacher, I continued to flounder, and then suddenly tragedy struck.
Darren died one December day at the age of 28. After over three years together and a house together and a life together, he was gone. Out there, next to a field, my friend tried to revive him and couldn't. His life was gone.
He died unexpectedly because of a heart condition that no one knew he had.
I remember the phone call, the one that let me know he was gone. I remember dropping my bag of groceries in disbelief and immediately thinking of my friend. Where was she? Oh no. Not this. What do I do?
I remember the night before the funeral, the way her mom grabbed my arms and looked at me so straight and said, "She needs you now," while tears streamed down her face and mine.
"I know." That's all I could say.
I remember one of the first times my friend wanted to leave the house after Darren was gone, how we drove around the lake aimlessly and talked about nothing, trying to pretend like it wasn't happening.
I remember feeling so helpless.
And I remember how I thought it was so unfair, that she had to deal with financial stress in the midst of it all. The way she had to figure out how she was going to make the house payment on her own on top of a hundred other financial obligations. The way she had to feel the pressure that money demands on top of letting Darren go.
While grieving, she had to look in the mirror and say this is the first day of your new life whether you like it or not.
Financial stress was a big part of that new life.
I hated that.
So on September 19th, I'm going to walk five miles, about four miles farther than the trek I used to make on my bike to my friend's house nearly every day of the summer while we were growing up. I'm going to do this walk even though I'm totally out of shape.
I'll walk for my friend and for people like her, some with dependant children, who find themselves stunned with unspeakable grief, left with too much to handle on top of their pain.
I'm walking with my friend Susan and her friend Tracey (who I thank for doing all the registering on my behalf due to my lack of organizational skills).
We'll be raising money for the Liz Logelin Foundation, a non-profit Matt Logelin began that honors those that are no longer here by supporting their families. Matt lost his beautiful wife, Liz, the day after she gave birth to their daughter Madeline. After his tragic loss, Matt received an outpouring of help, and wanted to extend the same grace to people in his same shoes. (You can read that story from the beginning by clicking here.)
And lastly, I want you to know that if you feel so inspired, you can help by clicking on the link to the Liz Logelin Foundation above and making a donation.
Or, if you want to encourage me to NOT fall over while walking 5 miles (seriously, I'm that out of shape), you can email me and I'll give you my address. If you send me moolah (any small amount) for miles, I will take it with me on the day of the 5K and turn it over to the Liz Logelin Foundation. (If you'd rather use paypal, send me a message and let me know so we can work that out.)
My hope is that, in a future post, not only can I share the multiple ways I humiliated myself on the day of the walk, but I can also give all of you a huge thank you for cheering me on through your generosity.
Also, for every comment left on this post, my family and I will donate a dollar. If the comments reach 100, I'll have to turn them off, simply because...well, that's all we can afford to donate right now. So thank you in advance for taking the time to comment. (if you don't know how, it's easy. Just click on the word 'comments.' You can even comment anonymously if you so desire.)
Today my life-long friend is a wife and a mother to three. She has spent years healing and starting over. She is in love and content. I talk about her here today because I've seen up close the strength it takes to live with grief. She's thankful that her tragedy didn't involve children, but in many cases, it does. Let's help them.
UPDATE: COMMENTS ARE NOW CLOSED. WHY? BECAUSE WE REACHED 100. THAT'S 100 DOLLARS FOR THE LIZ LOGELIN FOUNDATION, FOLKS. AND IT TOTALLY ROCKS THE PARTY! THANK YOU AND THEN THANK YOU AGAIN.