Monday, December 8, 2008

A call to action.... (kind of long but worth the read)

Hello Ladies! It's been a while since you have heard from me, but I want you all to know I have been diligently reading and savoring every word of your race reports and running and life advice. It has been my momentary escapes for the past few weeks. You see the last 3 1/2 weeks have been the most trying time I have ever lived through. Let me rewind a little to set the stage. Many of you know me as the girl that has a crazy race schedule. My fall lined up like this for 2008...

August 24: Hottest Half, August 31: Disney Land Half, September 20: Tour des Fleur 20K, September 28: Play Tri Triathlon, October 4: St. George Marathon, October 24 & 25: Ragnar Texas Relay, November 16: San Antonio Rock n' Roll Half, November 27: Dallas Turkey Trot 8 Miles, December 14: Dallas White Rock Half, January 10 & 11: Disney World Goofy Challenge (a half and a full)

I got through Ragnar in 1 piece feeling great about the rest of my fall season and started gearing up for the Rock n' Roll.

Saturday the 15th I woke up to my alarm at 4:00 am so myself and 2 girlfriends could get on the road by 5 for the 5 hour drive to San Antonio. So much excitement was in that car... plans being finalized to meet up with other friends all ready down there. For any of you who have taken a road trip with girlfriends you know how much fun they are! (if you haven't... go take one) We were actually on time even with a bathroom stop and a search for Chick fil A. We finished eating our breakfast and hoped back in the car for our last 30 minutes into the city ... let the party begin we thought! Not 10 minutes onto the freeway my phone rings. My dad was on the line which I thought was odd at this hour on a Saturday... oh well he must need something. The conversation I will never forget...

After my very giggly hello a very calm but very serious voice greeted me and asked where I was (kind of an odd question given I live in Texas and my family lives in Utah) I still laughing said back "driving". Back came "pull over!" followed by "I never say that so please just do it. Are the kids in the car with you?" I answered no and began to pull across 3 lanes of freeway and asking what was wrong. He calmly asked "are you stopped?" "yes, what's wrong?"

In the next second the world as I knew it would change permanently.

He relayed the news that my little brother Michael had died the night before in a 4 wheeler accident in Moab. The world could have been on fire after that and I might not have noticed. I just sat and sobbed through the phone with my parents. My girlfriends in the car with me consoled the best they could and I am so glad to have had them with me. They are truly amazing women. They moved me to the passenger seat and turned my car around and without regard for their weekend plans they began the 5 hour drive home! By the time I could hang up with my parents my brother in law had gotten a hold of my husband who was now a man on a mission to get me to Salt Lake in as close to one piece as possible.

We pulled into my driveway with enough time for me to hold my kids tight, throw whatever I could into a suitcase and head back out the door to the airport. While waiting to take off my sister called , trying to make funeral arrangements, wanting to know if I wanted to speak. Before I could think about it I was saying "yes but I don't know what to say, but we can figure it out. Gotta go we are about in the air, see you soon."

As I sat on that 3 1/2 hour flight fighting back uncontrollable crying I began to try and put some thoughts together for this impending, horribly impossible talk I was now giving. I scrounged in my purse for paper, receipts, anything I could write on, all I could find were post it notes.

What kept coming to the front of my mind, begging for space on my post it notes was last springs Salt Lake City Marathon! Nothing could get out until I allowed myself to write it down. It is how I opened on Tuesday November 18, 2008 to the 1000+ people at his funeral and it is how I lead you to this call of action. (if you want to read the whole thing you can read it here)

"Michael and I had at least one thing in common, running. He loved it, I love it, and while recently completing the Salt Lake City marathon Michael wanted in... kind of - he told me that he would be at the end to pick me up and carry me across the finish line. The thought of Michael heckling me if I didn't finish carried me through the last few miles. I came up on mile marker 26, and still no Michael. Where was he I wondered. The finish line came into view, and I really needed to see him, see a familiar face, see a cheer section devoted just to me, and sure enough I found him in the crowd. I don't know what it was, maybe the tears in my eyes that he saw, but the next thing I know he is clearing the barricade, holding up his pants that desperately needed a belt with one hand and holding an open can of Coke in the other to literally push me, to run through the finish with me. This spring I will be running to Salt Lake City marathon again, but this time I will be running for him, not to him. We all hit walls in the marathon of life, times when we think we cannot take another step, but the finish line beckons us on, where our angelic little brother will be waiting with open arms and hopefully some pants that fit, waiting to carry us home to our finish lines."

That Tuesday morning they were my words, my promise with my little brother to live my best life, live my life for him and the amazing one he lived in such a short time. But as we sat as a family it became more, so much more. You see this spring was supposed to be me and 2 of my little brothers running the marathon and my husband doing the bike tour. My mom mentioned to me that she would run with me in Michael's place. Then my sister wanted in, followed by my 2 other sisters and my other little brother! Slowly but surely more and more people were asking me, or telling me, they would be out there for Michael too! It has been a beautiful thing. A way for us as a family to honor him and help his friends cope with this new reality.

We now have a website a facebook group and most importantly a positive energy amongst the sadness.

This is where all of you come in! We want the world to know about this amazing young man who touched and changed so many peoples lives. On April 18, 2009 we will be making a statement through the streets of Salt Lake, starting at the University of Utah, where he was going to go to school this fall, and finishing in front of his most beloved Apple store, the kid was a computer/iPod genius. We want you! We want you to be part of us however you can. My mom, 1 sister, 1 brother and myself will be doing the marathon. Now if you are saying to yourself I can't run a marathon don't worry keep reading, but also know my sister Megan is a mom of 4 kids under the age of 5 (just had the last one this fall) and has never ran. We will be run/walking and crossing the finish line together with our mom who is a 54 year old mother of 7 and my little brother Matt who is a 16 year old cross country/ amazing viola player. The whole point of this is to stretch yourself and learn a few things you didn't know about yourself before. Now if you just still know the full 26.2 miles on foot thing just isn't for you come do the half with my dad or my 13 year old brother. Or you can join the ever growing group participating in the 5k. You can all (EVERYBODY) do this one. My 300lb brother in law is touting that if he can do this with a torn ACL you have no excuse! My son, Hunter who is 8, will be doing it too with my 10 year old little sister. For those of you pregnant ones or those with little kids come join our group at the kids races with those 4 kids under 5 and my little girl with my other sister. Now if running just isn't your thing (or your husbands - recruit them too) then you can join my husband in the bike tour. (It is a tour not a race so even if you aren't a super biker you can participate)

Please, Please, Please think about it... check out the website... and get out and start training. We are going to get shirts for everyone and have a great party that night!

I promise you this will be a life changing experience. We all say thanks for helping us!

Erin - Bart, Hunter and Jorden, Megan - Big Matt, Jacob, Hailey, Bryce and Caleb, Lauren - Colby and Brendan, Matt, Morgan, Doireann, David (Dad) and Gail (Mom)


The Wilks' Family said...

Hey girl, you know I'm in. I emailed your sis but no word yet on what I need to do. Let me know how to register with the group. Can't wait to run for Michael!

The Eberhardt Family said...

great post. great reason to run. great. great. great.

Indy Daleys said...

So touching! I read your post with tears in my eyes. What a wonderful thing to do in remembrance of your brother. I wish so much that I could be there. I will be there in May for my brother's wedding! I wish the dates coincided. Anyway, my heart goes out to you and your family. You go run for him!!