Last week can be summed up in one word....busy! I don't believe that much of anything around housework was started much less completed! I had deadlines, meetings, appointments, etc.--all good stuff! Then, I left before the crack of dawn on Saturday morning for a half- marathon (13.1 miles) in Columbia. It was a beautiful but windy day all over the south! The gun sounded and away we went. The first seven miles were amazing! I was running faster than I needed to be, but that was ok--I knew that there were hills and lots of them coming up around the corner. Hills are not friends to most runners! And, Child #1 was going to meet me with a few miles left and run me in over the hardest part of the course--if he remembered to set his alarm and roll out of bed! The race course finished a few feet away from his dorm at USC.
Several hours further south in Savannah, Ga., many of my friends were toeing the line for a marathon (26.2 miles). One of my closest friends and running partner, Phebe, was there as well. She was going to be running with a dear friend of ours, Tom, from church. Phebe's husband and Tom's wife were going to meet them at mile 25 and run with them to the finish.
My race finished up, and we had gone to grab a sandwich and tea for lunch. While my friend, Ginnie, and I were eating, my cell phone rang. I saw that it was Phebe. I knew that she had finished the marathon and would give me all of the details. But, these were details that I never expected to hear.....ever. It's really hard to even type this a few days later. Phebe was sobbing when I answered the phone. Trying to process what she was saying, I heard "Tom," "collapsed" and "not good." Tom had been running with her and pacing her throughout the race. Tom is a faster runner than both of us. He was not struggling with the pace. He had prepared for this race. He is a great athlete--runner and cyclist. Tom is 58 years old and in amazing shape. At mile 23, he stopped to adjust his knee brace, and Phebe kept going. She turned to see if he was coming and watched him collapse to the ground. She rushed to him shouting for help....paramedics were 50 feet away. A nurse running the course stopped and stayed with her and prayed with her. They took Tom to the hospital in one ambulance, and Phebe rode in another. She called Tom's wife and told her that Tom had collapsed and was on the way to the hospital.
Deep prayer filled our table at lunch miles away. I called my husband and our minister. I texted a friend who was at the race in Savannah waiting on her husband to finish. She was able to go to the hospital to be with them. Then, the phone call came from Phebe. Tom didn't make it. While running the longest physical race he had ever run, he completed the spiritual race of life. He literally ran into the arms of Jesus. Jesus was waiting for him at the finish line.
Y'all, we are all still in shock. All of our community. We know that God is good and has a plan and a purpose for us all. He also has a kingdom calendar. Tom has a new birthday on it now....November 5, 2011. Enjoy every minute that God has given you here with your family and friends. We are not promised that all of our time here will be easy....we live in a fallen world. But, we have hope in Christ! I would simply ask that you cover Cindy, Tom's wife and my sweet friend, and her family in your prayers. Also, please, please keep Phebe in prayer as well.
"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on the day--and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing." 2Timothy 4:7-8