As everyone knows by now, Father’s Day is the toughest day of the year for me. It is a constant reminder of how you really are different from someone else. Ever since my Dad died, my new tradition has been to run in the local Father’s Day 5k in my hometown which some of the proceeds are donated to the local YMCA. It is a great event and I did it by myself in 2006. In 2007 my mom and my sister came to cheer me on. In 2008 my brother-in -law, sister and friend ran with me while my mom, sister and fiance cheered us on. In 2009 I am proud to share that everyone enthusiastically participated! The whole family walked a 5K and my brother-in-law and I ran it.
The tough part was not the race itself, although for the first time ever I got faster as the race went on-a major accomplishment. The tough part was seeing all of the Dad’s and kids together enjoying their special day together. If my Dad was alive today, there would be no way he would come watch me run in a charity event, it just wasn’t his nature, but the fact that so many Dad’s and kids looked like they were bonding made me feel good inside for them, knowing that possibility will never exist for me with my Dad.
During the race the toughest part is always the 2-3 mile mark out of a possible 3.1 mile race. Your almost there, but not quite. You are definitely thristy, hot, fatigues begins to set in a little bit for the novice runner. So I did something very uncharacteristic when I run these races, I struck up a conversation with this gentlemen who was running a race. I thought, “He definitely looks like he could be a Dad.” And I found out he was. Two kids, but neither were running in the race that morning. I never talk when I am running a race, mostly because I am so out of breath that I can’t keep up the conversation. Today was different and before I knew it I was almost at the 3 mile mark. I ran a little faster because of my mystery friend, thanked him as I charged to the finish line, and was convinced that I was going to find him after the race to thank him again.
I didn’t find him after the race. With all of the mobs of people at the finish line, I never saw him again that day. I wanted to thank him for getting me through that toughest part of the race, and thank him for letting me carry on a conversation with him. It really meant a lot, especially on this, the toughest of days.
For all of you mourning a loss, yes with time it does get easier, but you never forget. And frankly, you never want to forget. Those memories about your Dad or loved one are the ones that make life so memorable. A big thank you to my mystery friend for making my Father’s Day memorable.
Question of the day: What are you going to do to honor your Dad or loved one today?
Always a friend to listen,
Eric Tomei-author I Miss My Dad
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