“First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.” ~EpictetusA runner is hit and killed at 8ish on a Saturday morning by a drunk driver. A runner who is a wife. A runner who is the mother of three small children. A runner who is young and vibrant. 34 years old.
I didn't know Meg Menzies, but we did run Boston "together" in 2012 and she was training for Boston again when she was struck and killed. I too am training for Boston and I find myself sometimes facing down cars on uncivil roads.
She was doing everything right. She was running against the traffic. It was not dark at that time. And who would really expect a drunk driver at 8 in the morning??? But the world can be a messed up place and there are some damned messed up people out there. Why they seem to survive and those who are not messed up, who contribute to the good in the world, who have something positive to add, do not - well, I'll leave that up to my more enlightened readers to make sense of.
I am feeling many things in response to this tragedy.
As a mother I think of her children. The lose is unspeakable for them. The emptiness. The need to have mom hold them. The reality that they will never feel her kiss on their skin again. The warmth of her embracing them, whispering into their tiny soft ears.
And I hold my daughter closer today - as close as I do everyday, but today there is something else.
I think of Meg's husband, now thrown into a scary world - facing life without his life partner - with 3 children. They are all left behind.
And of course Meg - who's life was too short. Who seems to have lived life with gusto. A horrible, tragic shame.
Of course bad things happen all the time - but that does not ever diminish the suffering of each individual who must live through it.
This situation hits home for me because I am a mother. I am a wife. I am a lifelong runner. AND I have been hit by cars (3 to be exact) and I have had untold numbers of close calls and adrenaline surging scares.
And I when I think of Meg, I think: That could be me. That could be my daughter. That could be my husband. And I feel a little sick to my stomach.
Today the world running community is coming together to remember and honor Meg by dedicating their running miles to her memory. This is what runners do in the face of horrific events - we run.
But I am also hearing some comments slip into to some discussions - Comments like:
"It's just too dangerous to run on the roads."
"It's TOO much of a risk."
And here is where we try to distance ourselves from the vagaries of life - and I am reminded of the human tendency, shown with unnerving clarity is books like "The Death of Ivan Illich" - To somehow say - this will not happen to me because I won't be so risky. I won't say it's a case of 'blaming the victim' to make these claims, but this seems to happen every time a runner goes missing, is assaulted, killed, hit by a car, etc. The warning are clear: Do not that. It's not worth it.
I won't die if I play it 'safe'.
“A ship is always safe at the shore - but that is NOT what it is built for.” ~ Albert EinsteinWell, I've been chastised for running alone. My judgement has been questioned for sometimes running on the roads (and let's be honest - in some places there are few choices) - even busy roads - which I do sometimes. People act like I'm 'asking for it'. They insinuate that I'm taking foolhardy and SELFISH risks.
And again, we have to wonder what makes a life worth living. I wrote about this when Sherry Arnold disappeared (later discovered to have been murdered) 2 years ago: "I'm Angry As Hell...Therefore I Will Run".
Let's face it - getting in a car and driving is more dangerous than running on a road. Statistically you are more likely to be killed. So let's not fool ourselves here. We must continue doing the things that make OUR lives valuable, for then we are more valuable to all those around us. Let us hold those we love closely every day. Don't kid yourself that it 'can't happen to you' because you are being safe(r) and (more) prudent.
What I think is needed, for a productive response to this tragedy (and two other runner deaths this week - Lindsey Ranz & James Callaghan) is that the running community needs to join together as a force to be reckoned with - to fight for the same '3 Foot Rule' that many states have in place for cyclists, but which does not apply to pedestrians/runners. And on Monday I will be contacting my legislators.
But for today I will run for Meg and for all of us. Be safe.
“There is nothing you can buy, achieve, own, or rent that can fill up that hunger inside for a sense of fulfillment and wonder.” ~Anne Lamott