Three years

I wasn't there for Joel's birth so it was ironically appropriate that I wasn't there for his death. The day he died, February 15, 2008, I was traveling for work. For the following two anniversaries, I was living in North Carolina. This year, finally living back in MN, I am again traveling for work, down in San Antonio for the Running USA conference. Three years today without our sweet boy.

At times it feels like yesterday. I can still clearly picture his mannerisms, the way he smelled, his little Joel voice, the way he used to touch his eyelashes, his "scary" face, his laugh, still feel the weight of his body when I would hold him ... And then there are days where it feels like a different life.

Me and Joel, two months before he died

I feel as though I've spent much of the past three years angry about losing him, for the suffering that he had to endure while he was here and why God wouldn't let me take his place.

The problem with anger is that it's exhausting. It eventually subsides and all you're left with is crippling grief. So I've tried to outrun it, and continue to, but it creeps up on me at the most unexpected times. I can be standing in a bookstore, flipping through a novel and Grief taps me on the shoulder. Suddenly pain washes over me and tears fill my ears. I turn around to see who is doing this to me and no one is there. Just the ever-present emptiness of losing something so sacred.

Tears are a funny thing. I've cried enough to form gullies down my cheeks. I've become a master at manuervering rush hour traffic through sobs, faking a sneeze when a coworker walks into my office when my eyes have welled up at a memory of him, smiling when I feel like screaming. But Grief is always there and you learn to live with the ache.

Everyone in my family has dealt with the grief in different ways and for me, it's been running. There is a quiet I've found out on the road where I can lose myself, where the tears mix with sweat and the pain I feel in my heart is masked by the burning in my legs and lungs. There is something so primitive and basic about running and it makes me feel... alive. Even in the shadow of death. It's on the road that I speak to God but more importantly, listen. And slowly I'm finding answers to all the "Why?" questions that I've never found sitting in a pew.

So I'll keep running, keep listening, keep learning, and keep remembering Joel.

Joel, we love you, we miss you, we can't wait to see you!



  1. That was beautiful. Keep going, you'll be together again. Best wishes.

  2. WOW!! Girl, I am so sorry about Joel. I completely believe that we will be with our loved one's in the next life.
    You are so right, anger is exhausting. I love your perspective on things. You are an inspiration!


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