Monday, October 1, 2012

You Should Come Run Richmond

"You should come run Richmond."

Those were the last words my uncle said to me as a tumor was encasing his larynx and throat, eventually spreading into his lungs.They were pushed out through a trach in his throat. They sounded like a whisper. I had never heard anything quieter than a bellow from him. I was still riding the endorphin high from finishing my first marathon two weeks prior. That feeling of invisibility was quickly humbled at the sight of my robust, gregarious uncle reduced by a breathing tube and cane. 

"You can stay with us. It'll be good. You should come run Richmond."

His eyes were genuine. While his head was fogged with pain-killers and throbbing with a migraine, his eyes were genuine. I could tell that he was proud and happy to see me at that moment. Doing another marathon was the last thing on my mind but I knew that I would be running Richmond.

Because my uncle asked me to. 

He passed away in April after a short but painful battle with laryngeal cancer. He was 68 years old. He was a well-known business man and community member. He was a restaurant owner who was known for his stern approach and wicked sense of humor. He was an animal lover with a big heart. Uncle Joe was always fair, always generous, and always interested. His reputation and career as a regional salesmen at 3M can only be described as legendary. 

"You should come run Richmond." 

I never visited my uncle when he was healthy. It took a tragedy for me join my mother on the long trip to Virginia to visit him during his sickness. I was so caught up in my life, career, and training. I think of my uncle when I'm running . I think of how precious and valuable our lives are and how we forget what matters. I think of how he wanted everyone to come see him.

I had to drop out of the full marathon due to time constraints and an injury. I will be doing the half.  My uncle will still proud. He will still probably think I'm crazy to run without being chased. In fact, he would tell me to slow down. To look around, to appreciate my health. To relax. 

I cannot talk to my uncle anymore. But I have found a way to communicate with him still.

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