running into it, or running away

I lost a mentor and a colleague and someone I was always half in love with.  He was my department chairperson when I was a faculty member.  He took good care of me you could say, shepherding me for five years though the tenure process, had a hilarious dry wit, we used to joke for hours sitting side by side at our desks and I wanted to get closer to him but never felt I could.  He didn’t come to work for a few days, but it was summer and the secretary was ignored although she feared something was wrong, until he missed a day when he had appointments, no answer to anyone’s calls or emails.  Another colleague went to his apt.–the tv was on but he did not answer.  They called me, and I called the police, who had to break in, and found his body.  Then I had to find his niece and tell her, the only loving relative we knew of, as well as call most of the department and deliver the terrible news.  I flew to Chicago the next day for a conference, and met his niece there–so incredible that I was on my way and that she lived there.  For a few days, I was at the very center of his death and I was actually grateful to be there, to find a new closeness to him.  My new possessiveness is interesting–when others express their own grief, I am jealous.  No, no, the loss is mine–mine!

I ran yesterday afternoon from Robert Moses Field 5 to Point O’Woods and back, at least 11.5 miles, but I was right on the beach and the curving coast line added longest run ever.  As the sun set, I saw two billowing  storm clouds side by side, anvil shaped but the opposite of anvils in their lightness.  I slowed to greet a grazing doe who batted her long lashes at me and let me come very close. I wanted my run to be dedicated to him, but it became dedicated to me holding on, to me breathing, to me focusing.  I was glad to be alive and began to feel lifted again.  Today I find I have released him a bit.  It saddens me to think so.  I don’t ever want to forget.


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