celebrate kindness

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I wasn’t going to run today.

I got up later than planned and spent the morning cleaning the kitchen. I made myself a cup of mocha and curled up in my favorite chair to enjoy the quiet while I continued reading a book a friend had shared with me. That’s when I heard the whisper on my heart.

Go.

I glanced at the clock. 9:15 a.m. The locals at Rutland had already begun their memorial Run for Meg; it was too late for me to join in. Besides, even if I left now, there would be no place to park. And I was cozy warm right here, still snuggled up in my favorite fleece pajama pants. I had no desire to run in the cold.

Go.

Let me interject here that I am not a runner. I don’t record my miles and couldn’t even begin to tell you what my PR would be for any race. I’m more of a Zumba-Yoga-Let’s-Plank-On-The-Floor kind of gal. Sure, I’ve run a few races here and there, but you won’t find me on the training circuit anytime soon. Running just isn’t my thing.

Go.

Suddenly, I was overcome with emotion. Here I was, making every excuse in the world not to run, when Meg would have already been out the door and down the street if she had the chance. How could I possibly sit here, on today of all days, and not run?  The quiet whisper on my  heart was crowded out by the blaring drill sergeant in my mind. “GET OFF YOUR LAZY BACKSIDE AND RUN!!”

Six minutes later, I was dressed and out the door.

I put in my earbuds and started to search for my running playlist, filled with fast-paced, motivating tunes, when I realized there was music already filling my ears. The music was light, lilting, a beautiful piano arrangement of Jesu Joy Canon in D played by David Nevue. Not quite the heavy beats of hard rock to match the rhythm of my feet pounding the pavement. But as the melody swelled with sweetness, I discovered that it was actually perfect for today. This was not a race about time, nor pace, nor stride.

This was a run for Meg.

I have never listened to classical music while exercising, but as the incremental chords moved up the piano keys, I found it a perfect counterpart for today’s run. My mind focused on my senses. The cool morning air whipping against my ears. The sparkle of last night’s raindrops shimmering on blades of grass from my neighbor’s yard. The gentle swish of my arms and legs and they moved forward, pushing up the granite hill. Even the sunshine seemed brighter, more heavenly, more spectacular this morning.

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As I made my way to the back of my neighborhood, I saw a neighbor I had never met walking his dog on a leash. The puppy was obviously excited to be outside as well, running circles around the man.

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I started to run past, his little pup straining against the leash to meet someone new. I stopped running and knelt down, the curly-haired dog jumping into my lap as if I were his long-lost friend. I showered him with attention then stood up and smiled at the man. “He’s so cute!” I complimented, as the man smiled back at me. “I’m trying to teach him how to walk on a leash,” he replied as we both continued our separate journeys.

The rest of my run was quiet. Serene. My thoughts drifted to Meg, her husband, her children and her mom. I pondered endless questions of life, death, and purpose. I thought of all the ways Meg had blessed others in her short time on earth and how many more were blessed by her memory even now. As my legs started to tighten and the sweat rolled down my brow, I thought of the thousands of runners doing the same thing as me, in this exact moment, all for the same person. It was a humbling awareness, to be a part of something so big, even though I was running all alone.

I wasn’t going to run today.

But I did.

I ran for Meg.

And I even wore blue from my shirt to my shoes.

For her.

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How do I even begin to write this post?

I have struggled this past week to put my thoughts into words, reeling (as many of you are) from the senseless, tragic death of Meg Cross Menzies, a stay-at-home mom in our local community.  For those of you who do not live around here, or have not heard her story, Meg was struck and killed last week while running with her husband.  The driver who hit her, also from our local community, was charged with a DUI and involuntary manslaughter.  As a cruel twist of fate, the driver’s own wife was struck and killed years ago in a car accident, also leaving behind children to mourn.

Oh, the heaviness of my heart.

In the hours after her passing, our community rallied around those touched by the loss of Meg.  An avid runner and Boston Marathoner, a few local runners honored her memory by tying their shoes to the street post where she was hit.  They also organized a “Megs Miles” run for the day after her funeral so people could run in her memory, sharing in her passion for the sport. Instead of an official race, the idea was that anyone and everyone could run and document their experience using social media with the hashtag #megsmiles and documenting their miles on a Google Doc.  We were encouraged to wear blue, Meg’s favorite color. Someone even created a logo we could use for our FB profiles in memory of Meg:

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And that, my friends, is where this Random Act of Kindness truly begins.

See, it wasn’t just the running community who wrapped their arms around this family.  It wasn’t even our local community, or her church, or even the Y down the street where she volunteered her time as a personal trainer.  Meg’s tragedy went global, thanks to the power of social media, and complete strangers rallied together in her memory.  There was a sense of worldwide unity when strangers who had never met Meg, never heard of Mechanicsville, VA, never even ran, laced up their sneakers and began to run.

Grandmothers. Husbands.  Mothers pushing strollers.  Children and adults of all ages, running in remembrance.  By the next day, our local newspaper shared the enormity of the run:  90,000 participants world-wide.

Photo Jan 21, 3 26 48 PMThat is simply incredible!!  Now, I do not consider myself a runner by any stretch of the imagination.  I’ve run 5Ks and 10Ks, but always for fun, to enjoy the social company of others running alongside me, never competitively.  This past Saturday, however, I ran for Meg.  I met a few coworkers and friends at a local elementary school and we ran around the track, remembering the life of one of our own.  Did I run the entire time?  No.  I actually began by walking alongside another Mommy as she pushed her 10 month old baby in a stroller, bracing ourselves against the freezing temperatures and swirling wind.  It wasn’t until her daughter, a kindergartner, ran ahead of us, then turned and taunted, “Hurry up, slowpokes!” that I picked up my pace.  I took turns running alongside each of the people who showed up that morning, sharing in a laugh, a smile, or simple silence.  I considered it an honor to run for Meg.

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There have been so many random acts of kindness performed in Meg’s memory.  Amanda Sullivan, a runner who was also struck down while running, completed a 5K on crutches.  Candice Shively, a race director, handed out a blinking LED bracelet to a young man she always sees walking home in the dark.  Josh Stowers, a small business owner, offered his skills in painting and power washing to Meg’s family (even offered to build her children a swingset.)  Anna Sakellariou painted a portrait.  So many ways to process grief, yet bless others at the same time!

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Today marks one week and a day since Meg left this world.  As I stood in my kitchen enjoying an unexpected snow day, I looked at my three children at the table, still clad in their pajamas.  It was in that moment that the reality of this tragedy gripped my heart so tightly I could no longer hold back the tears.  Those three precious children of Meg’s will have no more snow days with their mom. I wanted to sob and scream at the same time for the depth of sorrow in my soul.

Instead, I swallowed the lump in my throat, wiped away my tears, and continued making breakfast.

As many of you know, I like to cook and have my own recipes posted on Snapguide.  This morning I was in the process of making Snowman Pancakes, in celebration of today’s snow day (which is really funny now because the snow just started to come down and stick at 4:30pm. Gotta love living in a southern state!  Ha!)  As I assembled the pancake pieces on a blue paper plate and added the decorations, I couldn’t resist making an extra one for Meg, complete with angel wings and blue running shoes.

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Be inspired to do nice things for others.  In a few days, Meg’s official website will be up and running and all the wonderful posts on FB will be added for the world to enjoy.  If you would like to run in Meg’s memory, please use this link to add your information, which is compiled for the family.  Pray for Meg’s family, the driver’s family, and our community.  The road to healing seems endless sometimes, so anything you do can and will make a difference.

I will close out today’s blog post with this quote from Isaiah that spoke to my heart this morning.  Be blessed my friends and share kindness with one another.

“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.  When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown.  When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.”  -Isaiah 43:2

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