Thursday, May 8, 2014
A little over three weeks ago, I received a phone call early in the morning. The call was from the family member of a friend (M), telling me that M had unexpectedly passed away the night before, and he'd wanted to let me know before I read the news on Facebook where the news might be posted by mutual friends. I spoke to him for a bit, and I spoke to another mutual friend afterward as well. My first concern was for M's family and in particular her daughter. And I thought of all the people M had touched in one way or another. M and I met due to circumstances vaguely related to our mutual love of Disney and Disneyland. We didn't live near each other, and I saw her periodically when she'd come down for a visit to Disneyland, but we mostly kept in touch through Facebook. The news didn't really start to process until the day progressed, as I saw posts from mutual friends and others about the impact that M had on their lives.
Because I'm fortunate to live in relatively close proximity to Disneyland so as to be able to make frequent visits, I often post pictures of food items, merchandise and random other things that I find interesting (partly because I have friends who are Disney fans who don't live locally), as well as non-Disney-related updates on my Facebook page. I've continued to do that the past several weeks, but something seemed off. I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but something was missing. And then I realized what that was. I was used to seeing M "like" my posts and pictures or making a comment here or there or sending me a private message. When I'd check my page to see if anyone had responded, I realized I was looking for a response from her, a response that was no longer forthcoming.
Over the past 15 months, I've gotten involved in doing races (walking, not running), and in about 3 weeks time, I will be participating in my first official half marathon race. M had been very supportive of my efforts, and she knew what personal difficulties I had along the way, and she was always encouraging. She found out that I liked the Sport Beans from Jelly Belly as a way to maintain energy during training and races, and one of the times she was down here, she brought me a bunch of different flavored Sport Beans for me to try. She said that once I figured out what I liked, I should let her know, and she'd get me more, because she had the ability to get them at a discount. I thanked her for them, and a few weeks later, she asked me about them. I told her that I hadn't quite figured out the fueling thing yet, and that the supply she'd gotten me would last for a bit and I'd let her know after I'd figured everything out.
Last week, I was in a Sport Chalet browsing for some accessories. I walked by the little section with the various energy refueling options. My first inclination is always to go by to take a look, followed quickly by the realization that I didn't need any new stuff and would only need more Sport Beans, followed even more quickly by the further realization that M would be very upset with me if I bought them myself instead of letting her know what I wanted, as she'd asked me to do. This time, that last thought stopped me in my tracks. I realized that I'd be buying my own Sport Beans in the future, and that I wouldn't be able to tell M which ones I preferred. And I burst into tears. Odd how seemingly random things can bring about such strong emotions.
M completely believed in the concept of Ohana, and there were so many people that she counted as a part of her family as a result of that. I'm glad to have been considered family by her. When I do races and do my training, I often think of her. And I'll continue posting pictures and updates on my Facebook page, and I'll know in my heart that she's reading them and hitting "like".