For the few of you who don’t know this about me, I was in the marching band at college.
Yes, I went to band camp.
No, I did not play the flute.
I don’t have the words, really, to describe for you the magic that was the UMMB.
Within literally moments of arriving to college, I had a tribe, a family. A group of 300 people I knew I could rely on. They got me up at ungodly hours (for college, of course) for rehearsals on game days. They were my constant companions every weekday at 4:40, rain or shine. They were my saviors the semester after my cousin committed suicide. And to this day a good number of them remain my closest friends.
Last night was the wake for a husband of one in my tribe. Kyle passed away this weekend from cancer. I hate wakes (though truly, who likes them?) almost as much as I hate cancer, but I was inspired at how open Kerry and Kyle were about his fight. Even near the end, when he in hospice with liver failure, they were both inviting as many people who wanted to come visit and say their goodbyes. “You are our family,” they wrote on Facebook.
It was amazing. If it were me, would I be that open, that loving, that caring?
I went to the wake – it was the right thing to do. When one of your tribe needs you, you show up.
And afterwards, 15 of us or so went out to a local pub. What was amazing: over the course of the next hour or so, it was like the years were stripped away, and we were talking and laughing and reminiscing as if college was yesterday.
And there was a moment where I just sat back and looked around, marveling.
College was more than half my life ago, and here we were gathered after a WAKE, and there was that magic, that love, again.
I’m not at all religious. Quite honestly, I don’t really believe in God or heaven. I don’t believe that when we die, we go off to some other place that’s better than here – I think we just die.
But last night, in the midst of the laughter, I could see a little of God in the outpouring of friendship and love and support surrounding us.
I stayed out too late, of course, my friends fed me beer and nachos and waffle fries and spinach dip, so when my alarm ran at 4am this morning so I could get into Boston and run 5 miles on the Charles today, I expected this run to kinda suck. But I decided I wasn’t going to care, I was going to run easy and comfortable and enjoy it.
This run. Today. It’s one of my mantras; something I have had to keep in the forefront of my mind this summer as I deal with work stress and achilles tendinitis and acute (and awful) insomnia.
So imagine my surprise when my run felt great, comfortable and easy, even with the humidity (and headwind, both something I hated and enjoyed) and tired legs and not enough water or sleep.
And, honestly. To run along the Charles, watching the sun rise, the sweat prickling my back, feeling the wind, smelling the freshness of the sea, my legs carrying me every step…
I am so lucky.
Today, I dedicate my miles to Kyle Gendron, his incredibly brave fight against cancer, and his wife Kerry, and their three kids.