All week I've been mourning for a runner, Sherry Arnold, who went for a run last weekend and never returned. She was 43 years old. A few days ago, she was confirmed dead. Sherry is the cousin of Beth, a wonderful person whose blog I read faithfully and actually had the pleasure of meeting in Las Vegas.
Let me first tell you about Beth. As a runner and a blogger, it's no secret that I love to read running blogs. I love the stories, motivation and inspiration I get from reading blogs of runners and triathletes. Long-time readers of mine will remember that back in June, my 5 year old daughter, A, was in the ICU for a week after her lung collapsed in the recovery room post-surgery from closing up the hole where her tracheostomy had been. My daughter was put in a medicated coma and was on a ventilator. I sat by her bedside for hours at a time, feeling helpless and hopeless. I would take breaks for meals, and during those times I would sit alone, in the cafeteria of Children's Hospital, and catch up with my favorite blogs on my phone.
It was during this time, during some solo, pitiful dinner at Children's Hospital, that I stumbled upon Beth's blog, titled "Shut Up and Run". I think I clicked a link to her blog from another blog. I don't know why I hadn't seen her blog before, but I was glad I found it when I did. Beth's blog is so funny, so honest, so hilarious, that I was laughing in the cafeteria, laughing and getting out of my head and the misery that was my daughter lying in a coma upstairs. I bookmarked her blog, and have read it almost daily since then. In fact, it's been on my blogroll for a long time.
I got to meet Beth in Las Vegas, when I was there to run the Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon. I was at a meet-up the night before, and she was there. She was like a celebrity to me, and I bravely went up to her (after telling myself that she's just a mother and runner like you, Sugar!) and introduced myself. She was so personable and friendly, and I left happy that I had a chance to meet someone who has provided so much levity for me. You can click here to see a picture of me and Beth together that night.
So this week, when Beth posted that her cousin, Sherry Arnold, who was a mother and a beloved math teacher, had gone missing, it hit me hard. Partly because I care about Beth, but more because I, too, am a woman, a mother, a runner...someone like Sherry. Someone who could also go out for a run and never come back. The same thing happened a few years ago here in San Diego to a teenager name Chelsea King--I even wrote about it here on my blog--where a sweet, teen girl was attacked and killed on a run. I can't even comprehend how this could happen. I can't wrap my head around it.
The other day, after a week of searching, Sherry was declared dead. They still don't know what happened. Two men are in custody. Yesterday Beth posted that a theory is perhaps the men hit her with their car and moved her body to cover it up. As horrible as this would be, I hope this is what happened, as the other scenarios are just too heinous to consider. I sobbed when I read that she is dead, because Sherry is me, is you, is every other person in the world doing what they love to do.
This is not going to stop me from running. I will continue to run, and run long. Horrible things happen, and you can't let fear stop you from living life. Some people have been attacked while running, yes, but people have been eating lunch in a restaurant where someone opened fire, people have been on trains that have been bombed, people have been on planes that crashed through buildings. I can't let this fear stop me. I am thinking about getting pepper spray to carry on long runs, but even that I'm not sure about. I want to LIVE life. I CAN'T live in fear. That doesn't mean I am not careful---I don't run at night, or in areas I think are unsafe, and I try to be aware of my surroundings. I try to be careful in everything I do.
I have never met Sherry, and really, I don't know Beth...but they have both left an indelible place on my heart.
Rest in peace, Sherry...and Beth, I hope you find peace through all this horror as well.