It's never easy when you get the call. Your heart sinks, your blood gets cold, your body sweats and your stomach knots up. You look at the phone incredulous, you're hoping that somehow this turns out to be a bad dream. But as details start coming through, then reality sinks in and you're left numb and speechless.
The loss of a friend is never easy, compound this with the news that it was a tragic, senseless event. Add to the grief the fact that your friends life was taken by the hands of a loved one; a child, her son barely 15 years old was responsible for the gruesome act.
We met Melanie a little over two years ago. She was this tall, skinny person who started showing up at group runs with this terrific smile, attitude and an Austrian accent most of us quickly adored. What we soon found out was that she was a natural athlete; running seem to come natural to her.
She joined our local YMCA's training group to get herself ready for the Women's Half Marathon. Soon she would add a score of other events including the Goofy Run and Half Challenge where she set a p.r. on both the half and the full marathon.
She joined our triathlon club a bit over a year ago. Can't pinpoint the exact time for it always seemed like Melanie was there. And here as well, she proved to be an outstanding performer.
Melanie was committed. She was committed to her fitness, she was committed to her friends. This commitment never wavered. This is one of the reasons we loved her so. Whether an open water swim at 5am, a bike ride or a run equally early, she was always there. She made, as we all do, her training partnerships. She never let them down.
But it was not just about training and racing. She was the consummate motivator. Always had an encouraging word for you as she passed by you on the course. I mentioned her smile earlier. Yes, it was contagious. You could not be around her an not be happy. You could not be around her and not feel better.
Our triathlon and running clubs are, like most others around the globe, made up of like minded individuals who get together looking for a way to improve their skills. What we get in addition is an extended family. Folks with whom we not only train with, but folks with whom we make life long friendships. We share stories on the runs or the rides; we open our souls and expose our weaknesses. And we do this, because we become brothers and sisters. When one hurts, we all hurt. We really do. And our family is hurting, really hurting right now.
We are much better individuals because we got to share Melanie's friendship if even for a short point in time. She has left an ever lasting impression on each one of us. And we rest a little easier tonight, because we know that on that next workout, she'll be watching from heaven pushing us to do our very best.
R.I.P. Melanie. We will miss you... we will miss you dearly!