I was the only one still up past the midnight hour. I just came out of the shower after another day of vigil at home. I checked on my wife and saw she was still breathing. She was heavily sedated for the last nine days; it was just a matter of time. A nurse friend had told me that her body was failing rapidly but her will to live was very strong. I bent over and whispered “I love you,” to her.
After half an hour, I went back to our room to check on her. She had stopped breathing. I just stood there looking at her peaceful state. Trying futilely to be strong, I let tears roll down my cheeks. Then one by one I woke family members up. They all gathered around her crying while I stepped out of the room to be alone.
This scene played in my mind as I was running on the highest peak by the edge of the cliff on the 10th mile of the San Francisco Marathon. I ran in solitude and deep in my own thoughts, looking far away at the overcast view of the beautiful Baker Beach. I was also on the outmost side of the road far apart from other runners who were wisely taking the inner lanes as the road bends. I knew I was separated from the crowd of runners but I got the solace I needed. But not for long.
|A pink rose in my hand, my bib,
and my running shirt during the marathon.
One runner came from behind me and tapped me on the shoulder and said, “God bless you, bro.” I gave him a smile and a high five in the air; “Thanks, man!” I said to him. Before I could get back to my solitary reflection, another runner came up to me again and said, “You’re inspirational. Good job.” Down the road, yet another one. “I love the message on your shirt. Keep it up!” And there was more to come. I actually started counting the numbers and at least there were 29 runners, including spectators, who gave me some words of affirmation. These were people I never met. But I felt we all had one thing in common – we found ourselves in running.
I actually came to the race for some solitary refuge as I continue to grieve over my wife’s death. Running seemed to complement being lonesome. But I was wrong. Running can connect me with other people even with those who I would never meet. Running also allows me to reach out to others like how the 29 runners and spectators did to me. Sometimes, like John “The Penguin” Bingham said, it isn’t the pace or mileage, but the people who become the most important part in running.
|Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge with
a community of runners
Yesterday I was looking online at my array of official running photos from the race. I usually pick the one with my solo shot; otherwise, I just crop other runners out. But this time, I chose the one with the most runners around me and left the picture as is. I’d be lucky to meet anyone of them but I know in my heart that they’ve been part of my journey.
And so have you, my dear readers. Thank you for being a part of my life – running with me, praying with me, or just even following my blog. Oh yeah, thank you too, to a fellow runner K., who I met in the bus to the Expo, who knew about me through my blog. Thank you for all your support and encouragement.