Each year the 5K Memorial Run gets bigger and better. Bigger isn’t necessarily a measurement of better. But, it does show the event is growing and the better part is that lives are connecting and differences are being made.
I picked up a guide to coping with loss this week. It sounds funny to me that there are guides for grief as if it is the same as purchasing a handbook for traveling to Brazil or a booklet on how to pair wine with steak. None the less, I read that “we live our lives as stories.” And a major loss disrupts the plot. We have to rewrite the novel to make sense again, move the characters in a new way.
We ask, “What does this mean?” and search for something meaningful to fill the blank pages. The revised version creates a path for the central character to persevere. Meaning provides strength for the hero. Making a mark grants highlights to the story that can be shared again and again.
This past Saturday, over 300 people gathered to run the memorial race. Family, friends and strangers joined to create a new story. Raising not only money but awareness, two strong organizations–MN COPS (Concerns of Police Survivors) and Feed My Starving Children–benefited from the generosity of the many who participated.
The plot never started out this way. I never ran more than ten feet in my previous life. In fact, my dear friend Andrea can assure that when we shared an apartment after college and went for long walks after work, other young professionals would jog by us and I’d say, “I can’t run. And I don’t know how anyone else can or why they would want to.”
Now running is my perseverance. And the charities that we support each year are the heroes. And the people who run with us are making a mark–a highlight to the story that I will recount again and again as I teach my children how to find meaning in this life, the value of working hard, the gift of believing in something greater than yourself.
“Mom, I won the Daisy Dash!” Maddi told me after running the 50 yard dash with 75 other children. She showed off her medal like she had just competed in the Olympics.
At home Jordan rummaged through his kid’s runner bag asking, “Where’s my coloring book from the Shawn Silvera 5K?” speaking the name of the run with ease, a household expression.
The guide book instructs to “Harvest the Legacy.” Listed as item number nine on a list of ten practical things to do to adapt to loss, this suggestion details the need to find new opportunities to apply what loss has taught you and possibly reach out to others in need. I laugh out loud when I read this because my type A personality wants to cross this off my list and my new character honed by grief reminds me that loss is never about crossing something off.
It is nearly September. The month he died. It is time to reap where tears have been sown.
The run collected an amazing harvest filled with living legacies by a group of dedicated people who gathered to say, I will run. I will volunteer. I will walk. I will cheer. I will hold out water. I will clean up. I will face-paint a smile. I will participate. I will be there. I will help make a difference. I will help rewrite the hurt. I will be a part of your new story.