A Megsmiles Advent - December 23
A guest post from Felix Lopez:
This has been a year filled with many emotions for sure. As I sit here in my usual chair drinking my latte, I start recollecting some of the important events of the months that have passed. A few in particular come to mind. Like the one on January 18th. I was browsing my club’s FB page, days before, when I saw an invitation to run the Saturday of that week. The run was to honor and remember Meg Cross Menzies, a mother of 3 children who found sudden death in the roads of Hanover, VA. I immediately made my mind up and decided to go.
So, I went dressed in blue, Meg’s favorite color as I found out after reading subsequent comments in that post. I remember it being a cold early morning and only expected to see maybe 6 to 10 runners. To my surprise I found almost 40 runners of the town of Lynchburg or nearby. All were dressed like ready to conquer the North Pole. I remember selecting my BIB with Meg's picture on it and placing it on my chest. It is the same BIB that has accompanied me to several races in the months thereafter. We gathered for a short moment and after staying silent for a little while, we went on to our runs.
I also remember other events that happened through the year. All connected to Meg. Like the one a few days after that virtual run, when I joined the Meg's Supporters FB page and learned the details of her tragic death. Many of the stories were about her, about how she lived her life and how determined she was to qualify for Boston that year. The outpouring of true concern from runners all over the country and some places of the world kept pulling me more and more to the group. After making some friends and reading more I understood why. All members, including myself, could relate to her story. Yes, what happened to Meg could have happened to any of us. Also, it did sink in my head that we human beings, even though in good health, are very fragile. Our lives can change from one second to the next.
As I mentioned before, I ran in Meg's Memory in several races with Meg's BIB on my back to give me that extra push. During some races I heard some uplifting comments and cheers. Comments like the one at the Monument 10K in Richmond where faster runners who were passing me were saying "Good to see you running for Meg, buddy!" or the one at the Mill Mountain 1/2 Marathon in Roanoke when a young runner passed me at a steep uphill saying: "I run this hill for Meg!" or that one at the Richmond 8K where I heard: "Run fast for Meg!". This tells me that her story is being known more and more.
The trip with friends to the Monument 10K race gave me the opportunity to visit the site of Meg’s Memorial for the first time. I remember the big impact that the visit caused to me and my friends. Also, how can I not include our reunion of 3 days in Richmond? This reunion has been documented with an enormous number of pictures and comments in the FB page. Meeting personally some “megger” friends and spending quality time with them has to be one of the highlights of the year.
Finally, the day that I was able to run Meg's training course with Scott. That is an experience that would be hard to forget. That course is not easy. The fact the Meg used it for training tells me how determined she was and the type of competitor she had become. Also, I believe that runners, joggers and walkers from this group have bonded. That bonding is Meg's legacy. This group of people converges in this page to talk about their achievements of the day or their struggles of the week. Just to be encountered with the most inspiring set of congratulatory or comforting words from people that care.
Now, let me conclude by saying this, runners are good people by nature. Meg Cross Menzies was a good person. I can’t answer why Meg is no longer with us. But of this I am sure, as a Christian and God fearing man, that there is the possibility that when my time comes, if I am in front of Peter waiting for a decision of my worthiness, this angel wearing a pair of running shoes will approach me and with the nicest smile in her face, like her mom Pam, will say and ask: "So you are Felix!... Do you want to go for a run?" THAT would make my LIFE!!
A guest post from Karen Mills:
It read like a tragic love story. A kind and beautiful young lady with a heart for others met a handsome, wholesome young man dedicated to making the world a better place. They married in a fairy-tale wedding, had children, and moved to the home of her dreams. She devoted herself to her family, while still pursuing her passion for running. In the prime of her young life she was struck down, creating an outpouring of support for her devastated family, who bravely trudge on. These facts were and are true, but only scratch the surface.
For over thirty years, it has been my privilege to call Meg's family my friends. We met when Meg and my daughter were in the same Brownie troop. Meg was beautiful even then, both physically and with an inner beauty that radiated through twinkling eyes and an infectious, ever-present smile. A gifted athlete, Meg loved running. She also loved to sing, and she did it well. She was equally at ease with children, youth, and adults of any age. She was kind to all and helpful, especially at home. When she talked with you, it seemed that you were the most important thing in Meg's life at that moment.
When Meg's mom became the music director at our church, Meg and the rest of the family came too. By then Meg was a college student who could easily have balked at the change in her routine. Instead, Meg embraced it, and immersed herself in church activities. She taught Sunday School, became a Deaconess, worked with youth, and sang in choir. When Meg and Scott married, she devoted herself to building a life with him. Her children were her pride and joy, and she was a great mom. She loved them fiercely and protectively. They kept a schedule, ate the right things, were cute, funny, and well behaved, just like their parents. Meg's family came first. She put them before career, interests, hobbies, etc.
On the last day of her life, Meg put soup for the family dinner in the crockpot before going out to run. Though old enough to be her mother, I envied Meg. She was always calm, cool, and collected, while I flew by the seat of my pants. Her children were well dressed and well behaved, while I remembered days when I secretly desired to change my name to anything other than "Mom!!". She was outgoing and friendly to everyone, while I am at ease only with the closest of friends and family.
In the hours after Meg's passing, as I stood with her grieving family in the kitchen of her warm and cozy home, I saw the source of Meg's perfection. On the bulletin board where she kept the family calendar were Bible verses that guided her life. Among them "but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." (Isaiah 40:31) There was the answer to all my envious questions. In all that she did, Meg trusted God to guide.
Meg inspired me in life, and continues to inspire me to be a better person, a more loving wife, a more understanding mother, a more supportive friend. Now! Because we are not guaranteed tomorrow. Meg would not have sought or wanted the attention she has received, but she would have been delighted to think she inspired someone to be the Christ-like person she aspired to be. That is Meg's advent story!
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