Thursday, June 11, 2015
Life, Death & Running
Our visit was low key. Perfect for what we needed. We walked around some, did some shopping, drank some beer and ate. And ate. And ate. I felt like I was going to burst by the end of the three days. So much good food. I walked the canal in the humidity. It was overcast and you could smell the canal hanging in the air. There were a few ducks out, nothing like this spring. There were hundreds of quail around with their babies. Baby quail are so cute. I saw a HUGE coyote running across the grass at a downtown Scottsdale hotel lawn. I'm sure he was well-fed.
But then our last day there, we found out, again, on Facebook, that one of the runners we knew from ultras was involved in an accident on his way home from work on the night of June 9th, with bad head trauma. He was taken to Maricopa County hospital. That's where I got my first job offer out of nursing school, in ICU there. As an ICU nurse, I always dreaded having someone come in as a patient that I knew.
Dennis was Native American from the Hopi Reservation in northern Arizona. He was involved in creating the Paatuwaqatsi Run, one of the most beautiful running experiences I've ever had. One that I'd like to go back to, that Katy and I were talking about doing again next year.
Losses to the running community are always hard because everyone runs thinking they will stay healthy and live a long time, in that healthy state. At least that is what they assume. So when things do happen suddenly to runners and they die, it's always unexpected. It's almost like there was that extra expectation of a long life.
It is horrible what happened to Dennis, though I am glad he didn't have to suffer any longer in that condition, because it's too cruel of an outcome to survive an injury like that. Surviving isn't even the right word, it's more like being plugged in to a socket. It means days on a ventilator and a million tubes and lines to pumps going in and out of the body, and if the person has pain they can't communicate it and might not even be aware of what it is, just agitated in a non-communicative state. Not the way anyone would want to be for any period of time.
Live every day as fully as you can. Have all the adventure packed in sooner rather than later. Forget all the trivial problems of our too-complex lives.
Run in beautiful places. Look at the landscape. Look at the sky. Breathe.