Yesterday was an emotional day for me.
What I didn’t mention in my previous post about the race I’m putting together is that it has two components: a main 5K and a kids’ fun run. The fun run has always been kind of an afterthought to the race, and almost didn’t even happen last year.
When I heard that one of the Sandy Hook kids was an alumni of our kids’ race, it wasn’t too much of a stretch to think of putting that part of our race on in his honor this year. Because his parents grew up in our town, they’ve all been part of the race. In fact, this little boy’s grandfather has worked on the 5K for years as part of our volunteer EMS crew.
Several of my friends know the family, because their kids went to preschool with this little boy here in our town. I asked one of them to reach out to the family to see if they would be interested in having our kids’ run be in honor of their little boy.
So for the last few months, I’ve been quietly putting together this part of our run with a group of women who know the family. One of them is a good friend of mine, the rest I’d never met before. In a matter of three weeks they’d raised thousands of dollars for the event. They reached out to local and national business to gain sponsorships, donations, you name it.
I’ve tried to focus on the nuts and bolts of it, because this? I don’t get to feel sad about this little boy. He’s not mine, he’s not part of my world. I didn’t know him, didn’t know the family.
Yesterday, I went to a meeting with a member of their foundation that our race will benefit, and this little boy’s mom. I was nervous. How would I introduce myself? Was it appropriate to say how sorry I was? How much I’ve thought about them, prayed for them, ran for them?
In the end, it was like meeting someone you have always known. She is friends with my good friend, so the odds were good that we’d end up getting along just fine, and we did. It was a little awkward at first as she and my girlfriend caught up (they hadn’t seen each other in a few months), but as we all got more friendly, the conversation flowed more easily. There was a lot of laughter, a few tears, and a naked honesty that I was impressed with and humbled by. There were stories. There was determination.
There was even a little gossip.
We spent two hours sharing thoughts and food. I thanked her for meeting with me and she drove off, in her minivan, moving on and forward. But I stood there in the parking lot, wanting to burst into tears. I could feel the weight of what had happened to her, to her child, to this community, just hanging there all around me. And I felt so wrong for feeling that way: if she could be so positive and energetic, I certainly had no business wallowing in my emotions.
So I will take that sadness, that frustration that we all felt in those dark days after December 14, and I will use them. I will use them to make this race, the kids’ run and the main race, as wonderful and as successful as I possibly can. I will honor this little boy with this race, with this day, with this event, in every way that I can. It’s the thing I can do. And I will do it.