When he died last weekend, I had the strangest feelings. Sadness at the death of a good man. Guilt that I hadn't been more present for him. Happiness that his painful battle was over and that he had died mercifully in his sleep. Anger at the disease I have come to hate so much that words fail me when I try to express it. There was also a sense of resolve. Fighting cancer isn't a metaphor for me any more. It is a real battle, a full time job, a holy vocation.
I felt great at the end of this morning's run.
70° 6.01 mi/1:1:25 @ 6:07 AM. John's with Striders. Lime Pegasus. BPM 146 (161 max). Tempo Run. Splits: 11:00, 10:38, 9:53,(31:31) 9:51, 9:50, 10:09.(29:50)As I walked around the block to cool down, I saw two raggedy looking men sitting on a bench, waiting for a bus, I guess. One of them called out to me. "You been jogging?"
"Wish I could run."
"You can," I told him with a smile, turning and trotting backwards for a few steps.
"Nah," he grinned sheepishly, holding up his cigarette. I felt something rise up inside me. I was mad. I stopped, and walked toward him, pointing my finger in a manner that could only be described as rude.
"Listen. Two years ago I weighed 400 pounds. They told me I had cancer, and gave me a 50% chance to live. Two weeks ago I ran a marathon. Don't tell me you can't run."
Then I turned and walked back to my car. I wasn't even a little bit ashamed of myself. As I drove home, I remembered Homer. I thought of all the people I love who smoke; who work too many hours; who abuse their bodies. I wish i had told them all what I told that stranger on the street. Maybe losing such a good man to cancer will give me the courage to do that.
I smiled and thought of his beautiful deep voice and his heart-warming laughter. I remembered how thin and frightened he looked the last time we hugged one another good bye.
"That one was for you, Homer."
And God help me, it won't be the last.