Monday was Roger’s 31st birthday (if you follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram I apologize for blowing up your news feed with sappy posts). So in memory of what would have been the beginning of his 31st year, I decided to run 3.1 miles. It seemed only fitting that I should run a 5k on his birthday since I’ll be running a marathon for him on my birthday. Yep, October is filled with both birthdays and memory miles.
This run wasn’t about time or speed, just merely reflection. So I grabbed my tennis shoes and Ipod and headed out the door to run the route that Roger and I ran many times together. I rarely run with music unless it’s at the gym or a race but I was feeling particularly masochistic so I cranked up “Roger’s Playlist” which is patriotic songs like American Soldier, If You’re Reading This, Arlington…You know, the songs that make you cry even when you haven’t lost someone to war. Fantastic choice, Gina…..
About 1/3 way through the run I turned a corner and had a flashback to the last time we ran together. It was right before he enlisted in the Marines and he was getting ready to go through all the testing. I was having trouble keeping up with him and he kept harassing me for it. I smile now, knowing that I could totally lap him a million times over if he were still alive. (Ah, sibling rivalry at its finest.)
About the same time ‘If You’re Reading This’ by Tim McGraw started playing. There’s a particular verse in the song that always gets to me. “If you’re reading this half way around the world, I won’t be there to see the birth of our little girl. I hope she looks like you, I hope she fights like me. And stands up for the innocent and the weak.” My niece was born 2 days before Roger’s birthday; she never got to meet her daddy.
Commence the water works. I have never cried while running but I guess there’s a first for everything. Between the combination of sweat, snot and tears I’m sure I looked like Ms. America (ha!) to the construction guys I ran by. I’m surprised nobody called the cops. “Um, yeah, there’s this crazy lady running around our construction site….You may want to come and check her out….make sure she’s not rabid or anything.”
Luckily the tears were short lived; but the memories just kept coming. Which is nice because after so many years, I worry I’m going to forget him. Memories of rollerblading, ice skating, and building snow forts when we were little, hanging on for dear life after he got his driver’s license (The Fast and the Furious didn’t have anything on him), going shopping with him to help match clothes (he was color blind), getting yelled at to ‘get that boy out of your room before dad gets home’ (whoops…), and I also remembered the not so great memories – we were after all brother and sister and fought like it.
After all was said and done, it was a very cathartic run and I’m glad I was able to do it. I still had my scheduled training run to do Monday night but I really wanted to dedicate this time to Roger.
Happy 31st birthday, Roger! Love, your annoying little sister.