Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Trip to That Place

Three weeks from today "Sue's Crew" shall gather in Jackson, New Jersey to participate in this year's edition of the "Race for the Cure". My actual semblance of a plan training technique had this past week as a series of two-mile runs. I read somewhere about a month ago (might have been in MAD Magazine for all I know) that one way to prepare for an event such as this is to gradually work one's way up to the race distance. This week (starting tomorrow) I shall run a 2.5 mile loop, which I shall tweak up the week after to one of roughly 2.8 miles. The plan is that by the time I hit the pavement (hoping that it is my feet and not my face that develop the intimate relationship with the macadam) three Sundays from this one that I will be running my fourth 5K of the week (albeit with more people around and better lighting conditions than I usually enjoy at 3:00 a.m.)

I must confess that from the moment Suz and Megan took charge of this idea, the impact on Margaret, Joe and Frank of what we are doing never entered my mind. I mean - it is a good thing, right?

Clearly it is but it is also not a good thing to which no strings are attached. A something of which I have started to be reminded of vividly the past few days. Suzy B's birthday is September 14th (a/k/a "tomorrow") and tomorrow is - of course - the first birthday of hers to occur since she died in early June. I know that while Margaret is notoriously poor at recalling exactly when I was born (her favorite line being, "It's February something.....You and that ground hog, right?") her Mom's birthday is branded onto her memory. If Margaret lives to be three times as old as she is now, she will never not know when her mom's birthday was - and she will never fail to do something to honor it and to observe it.

I had forgotten I suppose that regardless of who you are and where you live your life, upon your death everyone who loved you and a lot of those who simply knew you claims a little bit of you for themselves. There is no nefarious intent. In fact, just the opposite. It is the practical application of the old adage regarding strength in numbers.

Yet no matter how troops you amass at the border to defend against the onslaught of grief's invaders, each of us is an army of one. In the past few days Margaret has received a couple of birthday cards from long-time friends of her mom and dad. In the cards the sender has reminded Margaret of things for which she needs no reminding; namely that tomorrow is her mom's birthday and that everyone loved Suzy B very much. And I have watched my wife read these cards, put on her brave face and then about halfway through reading whatever beautiful remarks have been written by the sender (and the ones she has received thus far have been heartbreakingly tender) start to cry.

There is a consequence - or at the very least a reaction - for each and every action we undertake. Even the good ones. Perhaps even especially the good ones. It does not mean we should stop engaging in them but rather that we should be mindful of the impact of them, both intended and unintended.


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