Thursday, June 26, 2014


     It's been five years today.  Five years since a midnight phone call from the hospital brought us to his bedside one final time; his labored, shallow breaths of carbon dioxide silencing any last hope for a miracle.  It's been five years since Glen, my brother, and I, walked into a Paul-less morning and talked about what everyone else in the world was talking about: Michael Jackson.  "Thanks for waiting for him to go first, Buddy" Glen said.
     It's been two hundred and sixty weeks since Peg, one of our favorite nurses, asked me how I wanted to say goodbye to him.  "Shut off the beeping." I told her, and that beautiful, compassionate woman muted the machines, dimmed the lights, and let us do death our way.       
     It's been 1,825 days since Paul's death.  This year, I ran the race he never finished, asking Glen's wife, Erica, to run alongside me.
     At the YMCA the day before, I grabbed my t-shirt and picked up my bib.  "Double check the information on this sheet." the woman at the registration table told me.  
     "This says I am 38.  What kind of bullshit is that?" I joked. 
     A man in line behind me laughed too, "I'm Eric Torgersen," he told me.  "We have mutual friends.  I know what tomorrow means for you, and I just wanted to tell you...I'll be there, cheering you on."  
     The morning of the race, my phone erupted with texts of encouragement and support, and then this one, from Erica: "Maddie's really sick.  I won't be able to make it today.  Know I'm there with you, in spirit." 
     I started the run with butterflies, not dragonflies, no ethereal signs to spur me on.  But soon enough I passed by some cheering friends, just before entering the McLean Game Refuge where, according to other runners that day, Paul first started to teeter.   
     Mile five, turning onto Rt. 10, I ran by Skip Allerman's house, the man who helped petite Sue Davies as she lowered my near-unconscious husband to the ground. From that point on, I knew I was running a part of the course he hadn't and my legs grew miraculously surer, more determined.    
     I've begun to say my goodbyes here in Granby. Today I ended-at least for the foreseeable future-my weekly visits to my beloved therapist, Dr. Jeanne Folks.  "You're going to be fine, Heidi," she told me, in her trademark soothing tone. "When I cut my finger, I don't have to tell my body to begin to heal. Immediately my platelets mobilize to mend my skin. Our bodies always seek do our spirits."
     On the sixth and last mile of Paul's run, I crossed the final intersection and saw my friend Jenn, scanning the road, waiting for me. Soon Eric Torgensen, my new buddy from the day before, joined her in running me in. As I got closer, my friend Katy found us, bringing Maya and Cole and Anna, too. My cheerleaders, cheerfully assembled.
     It wasn't lost on me, not then, not now, just how symbolic it all was. Whatever race we're given-illness, divorce, betrayal, abandonment, death-it's ours alone to run. But always-and everywhere-there is Love cheering us on, bringing us home.
     I crossed the finish line by myself that morning, no one beside me, as were the rules. But up ahead and to my left and right, were a small crowd of people who love me, welcoming me home...Just the way I imagine Paul's own welcoming committee received him, when he finally finished his race, five years ago today.

1 comment:

  1. Heidi, just a wonderful, heartfelt post. Congratulations on your major accomplishment. I know in my heart that Paul was with you every step of the way. Love, Henry