One day, more out of a sense of helplessness than anything, I signed up with Team in Training to run the Nike Women's Marathon.
In something of a miracle (or so I understand), my aunt was about as close to a perfect match as you can get for a transplant. I had a vision in my head, naive to be sure, of my uncle recovering from the transplant and being at the finish line when I crossed it in San Francisco in October.
Five years ago today I received a call from my grandmother telling me that my uncle had passed away. Admittedly I'm fuzzy on the details. Once I heard the first part, everything else was just.......noise. I think that there were complications from his treatment, either radiation or chemo, that damaged his bone marrow in such a way that the transplant couldn't take. And he just couldn't recover.
To this day, I think I can very safely say, we all miss him. We're a small family and he was a very large personality in that family....extremely intelligent with a fabulous sense of humor and wit.
Everything I've accomplished in the last five years, athletically at a minimum, can be pinpointed back to that day five years ago. A couch potato signing up for that first marathon with TNT, determined to finish. And now I've done everything from 5ks to marathons. Sprint tris to Ironman, including Kona.
And while I've been known to say that I wouldn't trade my Kona experience for anything....well......let's just say I wish he was still here.
I'll have to make do with my hope that he would have been proud of what we've accomplished. Because it's not just me. Many of my family, my brother, my aunt, my cousins, and friends of ours.......we've all pushed ourselves to feats that we might not have were it not for the inspiration of my uncle's memory. So today I look back with sadness, but also with gratitude, for I can truly say that my uncle helped make me the person I am today.