Running for a Lost Brother

My nephew had re-engineered some shoeboxes into a rocket ship. As I admired his 1st grade craftsmanship, he confided that he used tape to lash the layers together so that it will hold up better in the Chicago snow. That’s when I noticed the sticker that stated Size 10 – Air Zoom Vomero+ 2 – Women’s.

“Oh, is this box from the shoes that Patrick bought you for this weekend?” I asked my sister-in-law, Lizzie.

“Yes,” she replied with a hesitant smile. “Do you want to see them?”

As we shuffled into her kitchen, my heart started to ache. Lizzie is going to Disney World on Thursday.

It has nothing to do with the familiar fairytale facades. She is flying in for a reason that is not related to the rides.

On Sunday morning at 4, she will be warming up for the marathon at 6 but she doesn’t care about winning. She chose this race through the Magic Kingdom for some closure.

Five years ago, a brutal blow during a boxing class in Orlando killed her only brother, David. She is returning to this city just to wrestle with the visceral reminders of this unpleasant reality.

“I’m afraid they are going to cart me off in the Goofy Bus,” Lizzie confessed without a twinge of irony.

“That’s for runners who can’t maintain a 16-minute mile,” she clarified as she pulled out her sneakers.

As someone who once was the slowest sprinter in her school, I am not usually interested in running shoes.

Their unassuming exteriors and aerodynamic engineering just don’t excite me. However, as Lizzie laced up, she became bubbly, giddy, and confident. I suddenly understood the appeal of the gender specific crash pad and cushioning.

Sometimes soles need silent support much more than external validation.


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April 2008

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