Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Running with The Divas

When I first moved to Seattle in 2004, I quickly made friends by inserting myself into a running group. Soon Wednesday nights at the store turned into Saturday mornings with the girls and I was regularly running with Sherry, Lori, and Susan in West Seattle followed by coffee and pastries. We all had different lives and goals and backgrounds, but we were old souls and adored our time together. A few more regulars joined (Jill, then Lane, then Hannah) and there were a couple other guest appearances along the way. We referred to the regulars as “the divas” and loved our Saturday morning miles. But we loved each other more and that’s what made it special. Over the years, we had ups and downs individually, but we remained close and always had words of wisdom and laughs to build each other back up again. I’m sure it’s a similar bond that most female running groups share. No matter what issue life threw at us (illness, divorce, jobs, adoption, kids, spouses, boyfriends, friends, family, etc.), together we held each other up.

But as the years wore on, lives changed. Hannah moved to New York, Sherry San Francisco, Lane Boston. Lori opened a running store and my long run days are now mid-week, so I can bike both days on the weekend. Unless someone is visiting or I have a rest week or Lori has the day off from the shop, Jill and Susan are basically the only ones who’ve kept up our Saturday morning tradition. We all acknowledge this change and have kept up with each other in other ways – dinners, drinks, emails. I know; not as fun as running, but we still know the big things in each others’ lives – family, jobs, races, health.
Happy times with the divas at Lane's wedding in 2010
I will never forget the phone call I received from Jill on August 9, 2013 at 2:42pm. She called from Susan’s house and wanted to let me know, because I would start seeing it on the news, that Bill and Max (Susan’s husband and son) were flying on the east coast and their plane went down. I had flashbacks to 2009 when I was with Susan after Bill had flown from Astoria, OR and his plane crashed in the Columbia River. Jill, Sherry, Susan, and I had been on Bill’s plane 20 minutes prior when he flew us from Seattle to the Oregon coast for a girls' weekend. This time, he and Max were out visiting colleges on the east coast. I kept waiting for Jill to say that Bill and Max were fine, but they weren’t.

Susan and her two daughters, Ellie and Lucy, have been surrounded by friends and family since the morning of the crash. I attended a memorial for Bill and Max last Thursday and was overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and remembrance by family, friends, and people in the community. Bill was a brilliant, loving, compassionate, motivated man, yet humble, caring, and always thought of others first. Max was the most impressive teenager I've ever met - smart, hard-working, athletic, kind, and as his classmates said, "always talked to you like you mattered as much as anyone else." I was lucky to know both of these men through my dear running friend.

There is no limit to the number of tears or amount of heartache for Susan, Ellie, and Lucy, or for the families in Connecticut or for any of us who knew the victims of this tragedy. There's no instruction manual or training plan on how to cope or even what to say. But life will move on, because that is what Bill would have wanted for his wife and his daughters and his friends. And the divas will be there for Susan to help her regain any sense of normalcy she can, even if it starts as just one small portion of a Saturday morning run where she can remember a time before the accident. We will run with her and share many cups of coffee or tea or pastries or dinners or movies until things as simple as breathing or getting out of bed don’t hurt anymore. We’ll support our friend and be by her side whenever she needs us, no matter how big or small the task may be. We'll run side by side and help her take comfort in the friendships that were formed over the miles spent together many years ago.

With a heavy heart,

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