Friday, September 28, 2012

Running, Grieving, and Meaning

It’s been a year and a half since my wife passed away after a long battle with breast cancer, but I’m only recently beginning to realize the fullness of what I’ve lost. Whoever said that the stages of grief come in an orderly progression was wrong. Grieving is not a neat and systematic process at all. It’s totally haphazard. It was much like my training for the Half Moon Bay International Marathon.

Some days were good. Some days were not.  To run was a struggle, but I tried hard to put a run in as often as I could. My skimpy training reflected my own attempt to create a picture of me doing something to move on with my life with my loss.

With a rose in hand, approaching the
finish line at the Half Moon Bay
International Marathon on
Sept. 23, 2012 in California.
I came to the race very guarded; but all that changed right before the start of the race. I was greeted by two runners, Michelle and Stacie with her family, who thanked me for what I do. Then, a few good friends, husband and wife Alvin and Michelle, Myrel, and Ja, who showed up as a surprise, to show their support. During the race, I ran into Chris, who is running to raise awareness for the Prader-Willi Syndrome and in honor of their daughter Grace, and who has been following my journey since he and his wife met me last year at the inaugural race. And also, Alva, who broke to me the sad news of Pete Mingwah’s death only a week ago. Pete, the ultimate and inspirational couch to ultramarathon runner, is like a brother to Alva. Then as the race went on, a few more runners who remembered me from last year and who recognized me as the runner with the rose gave me a shout out on the course. I met a few more runners – Patrick, Rachel, mother and son team Joanna and Paul, and Cynthia, who is race director of a trail and adventure race company, Desert Sky Adventures.  I also like to mention the volunteers and organizers who joyously and eagerly cheered me on throughout the race. The entire race turned out to be a blessing of an experience for me. Instead of feeling my loss, I realized what I had gained.

My run was for my wife. It was also for all the people I prayed for and those who asked for it on their behalf. As much as I remembered my loss during the run, I also recognized the caring, giving, and the affirmation I received from the other runners, volunteers, and organizers I met in the race.

Grieving, like running is not easy.  Grieving is not fun, unlike running.  But grieving and running, in the right direction, can be both nurturing.  There is joy and enlightenment that eventually grow out of them. It doesn't matter if the training was a mess, or if the grieving was disorderly. What matters is that you are at the starting line (again) to face an opportunity to grow, to change, and to be a better person than you were before.

Some excerpts taken from Widower: When Men Are Left Alone by Scott Campbell and Phyllis R. Silverman


  1. I like your words Tito Joey. I think you should write a book. I want to go out an train hard. When I joined the army I thought I was doing it to change my life. My life changed and I gained lessons. Life lessons that I will ways have. But I also learned bow to fight for other people. You know what its like to lose someone and keep fighting. Someone once told me "just keep putting one foot in front of the other" I love this line and it helps me.

  2. Thank you Alex. You are an inspiration to me, too. You have a strength of a battalion of friends bundled up into one. And that's how you are to me and to others. Be at peace as you keep fighting for others. Set your eyes on your goals as you train hard. And know that I'm always praying for you and your family. Carry on! and God speed!