Friday, June 19, 2009

Bridge Run

David (right) and me (left, 1 y.o.)

Before many runs I often wonder what it will bring...sunrise birthing colors or sunset laying them to rest...parents strolling with baby or an older couple walking among the azaleas...a near miss by yet another careless driver...possum trotting across the street or eagles twisting overhead. The sweet scents of magnolias and jasmine and honeysuckle or the peculiar odor of pluff mud. Holy passion flowers blooming lonely among the weeds.

And sometimes nothing special happens, your run is full of blah and you look forward to the next time out. Tomorrow will be better.

On this day I was thinking of these things, wondering what, if anything, the run would show to me. It didn't feel like a special day in any particular way. I felt neither good nor bad, just another easy run in my marathon training. As I ran down Pitt Street to the old trolley bridge, there it was. A white tandem-wheeled truck parked on the side of the road.

I'm not sure now but I don't think it was the same model that my brother drove. As I approached I tried to catch a glimpse of the driver without staring, for some remaining Southerners civility is a gene that must be endured. I ran by the side of the truck and could not see the driver; he appeared to be leaning back, perhaps even sleeping. I could only see a dark figure, no details, no face.

I ran on down the trolley bridge, thinking of my dear brother who is not yet one year dead. The mind raced ahead, thinking maybe he isn't gone after all; here he is looking out for me still. It would be just like him to pull some kind of prank, a high art passed along from brother to brother.

Oh but I recall him lying still, no life left. A casket, flowers, family, his fiancée. A funeral in the mountains near his much beloved Blowing Rock. The spot in his small garden where he lay down with a bursting heart with beauty bursting all around. A rock pathway he was building that our younger brother would finish. Tears, many tears. My mother's pain. So much love.

He is gone and not gone.

As I reached the end of the bridge and turned around, I knew the truck would leave before I could return. That if I could run faster than any human being on the face of the earth, I could not catch it. And as I thought this very thought the truck pulled around and was gone.

I ran on, slowly.

I make no pretense of being a religious or even philosophical soul. I have no answers to give and many questions to consider. But I have not been able to forget this particular run and know I never will just as I miss my brother and will love him forever as all us who knew him.

…a long time ago an asthmatic boy watched as his older brother disappeared from sight as he ran around the block. Unable to run further than beyond a few houses down the street, the boy kept trying to mimic his brother's feat. The block was defeated, 5 miles, 10 miles, 15 miles down highway 61, and years later the marathon.

He never gave up and found peace in the end.

- In memory of my brother, David Michael Blalock. 10/19/1949 - 06/19/1999