Over the past few weeks I have been pondering about the content that should be shared on our website during the first year of RoseRunners’s existence, and even though there have been times in which I have resisted the idea of having a personal blog co-mingled with the RoseRunners website, I have come to realize that sharing my story (and having others share their stories) will help with the overall mission of RoseRunners, which is to help individuals and families who are coping with traumatic grief (and really, grief in general).
I don’t know if I will be as much of an open book as my mother is on her blog (I am so proud of her for putting it together and for writing so freely about her ups and downs with grief), but I promise to be sincere and honest about my journey through grieving the loss of my sister, for whom this organization is named after, how running has become a significant outlet for my grief, and how I want to help others who are burdened with the difficulties of grief.
Last night I chose to run the exact route I ran the morning of The Accident, which is a route I have typically avoided during the past six months. However, last night I wanted to retrace the steps and think about that morning…
I can recall that morning like it was yesterday. I was supposed to have worked out the night before (training for a half marathon), but I was so exhausted that I decided to instead just go running in the morning – I remember I even told my roommate that I HAD to run the next morning, and I laid out my running clothes so that I could roll out of bed, change, and get out the door (those who know me know I am NOT a morning person; those who don’t, well, now you do). I woke up to text messages from both Taylor and Madie about the fact that Taylor had proposed to Bailee the night before and how they were headed to Arizona for Thanksgiving.
Texts Between Taylor and Me:
T: “Bailee and I are engaged!”
T: “we are in kanab on the way to arizona!”
R: “Haha it’s 5 am in Utah… Are you going to be up in an hour?”
T: “yeah we are driving to phoenix”
I then proceeded to go on my run, and I cramped up a mile into my run. I had to sit down for a couple minutes on a bench, and I had the passing thought to throw in the towel on the pathetic run and call Taylor to hear about the proposal. But I didn’t. I did what was standard behavior for me – I told myself I wasn’t allowed to quit, that I needed to finish the run, and so I did. I was in pain, I was loathing every second of it, but I managed to run the rest of the way home, and so I remember while I was walking through the door of my apartment I was quite proud of myself for not “giving up”.
I was anxious to hear the proposal story, but I decided to shower prior to calling (so that my hair could dry and I wouldn’t be late to work). I hurriedly cleaned myself, jumped out of the shower, and with my hands still wet, I called Taylor.
Ring. Ring. Ring. Ring. Ring………………………… Voicemail.
I left him an excited message but remember thinking, “Taylor, why are you not picking up my call??? Who on earth are you talking to at 6:15 am in Utah???” I didn’t even call Madie’s phone because I assumed he was on the phone with someone else or that they were at a pit stop somewhere. I know I certainly did not think for one moment that something terribly devastating could have happened.
**Never again will that thought NOT pass through my mind.**
I threw on a dress, spent two minutes oscillating between heels and flats (opted for flats), ran out the door, and got inundated with work, as well as texting with my brother Sterling to wish him a happy birthday. The morning flew by. At 11:22 am, I had enough of a lapse of work to realize Taylor had never called me back, and so I thought that maybe the voicemail notification never went through because he had been driving through a remote area of Utah that morning.
R: “hey did you get my message?”
A client immediately called me, so I got distracted with work again. Twenty minutes later, my mom called my cell phone (I was busy working on something so I did not pick up, especially because I assumed she was simply calling about the exciting news of the engagement), but then instead of leaving a voicemail, she texted me, “CALL ME ASAP!”
I was still assuming that she wanted to talk about the engagement, but respecting my mother, I did as I was told and immediately called her from my work phone. I didn’t even bother to walk into a conference room and call from my cell.
That phone call was the worst phone call of my life. I hope no phone call ever takes its place.
Mom: “Uhhh Rachelle you are going to want to take the rest of the day off from work… (voice turning more emotional) Taylor and Madie were in a car accident. (voice reaching hysterics) Madie is dead… and Taylor is being life-flighted to Las Vegas.”
**I know exactly what my first words were out of my mouth, but I will keep this post PG-rated.**
Before I knew it, I was hanging up the phone, my hands were cupping my face as my body was entering a state of shock, and I made eye contact with my colleague next to me. I will never forget the look on his face as he waited for me to share what he only knew could be the worst kind of news.
“My sister is dead.”
Last Pic with Madie, Oct 2012
… I thought about all of these moments during my run last night. I used to try to figure out at what point of my run or shower did the accident happen, and if maybe, just maybe, I had dropped the ball in a serious way because I had missed God prompting me to call Taylor prior to the accident. Nevertheless, I have realized that it really does not matter because I cannot rewrite history. I cannot bring Madie back, nor can I give Taylor the back and neck he used to have. I can only move forward, one step at a time, one run at a time.
And so I will.
And whether or not you are also grieving, or you know someone who is grieving, or you just need an outlet for your own difficulties in life, I hope you join me.
Running is so much more than just a sport.