A letter from a former participant

I started my running journey as a way to become healthy.
January of 2012 I had enough of feeling tired, overweight and fearful of
what the future may hold. My family has a history of diabetes, heart
health and other medical issues. I purchased a treadmill and vowed it
would not be just a clothes rack! I started out walking and totally changing my
eating habits. Before I knew it I was confident enough to start to jog
half a mile and walk the other half. Then by March 2012 I was shocked I
was able to slowly jog/walk 2 miles.

My first official 5k race was the Susan G Komen race for the
cure in October of 2012, my mother is a survivor. (I walked it the year
before with my family) The day of the race it was rainy and I was tempted not to
go, but a voice inside told me not to give in that I had trained for this three
miler and I could do it even in the rain. With that race under my belt I decided
to try another one, so I signed up for the Get Fit Cold as Ice. I was
nervous and cold, wondering if I could do it. And what do you know, I came in
first place in my age category!!! I told everyone it was only because everyone
else didn’t show up that day! LOL

As spring approached my husband had a career move and he
opened a new law firm. One of the new partners happened to be married to a
runner!! It was nice to have someone to talk to about my new passion. (At
this point I believe I had lost 50 pounds.) She kept telling me that I
needed to train and run a half marathon with her!! What? A half marathon.
I had just ran my first 5K six months ago! She told me that The Hope and
Healing place has a great half marathon every spring and that we should do it.
Well we registered after much prodding and pushing on her part. I
was excited and scared for the new challenge. I did not know much about the Hope
and Healing Place other than they were putting on the race.

The day of packet pick-up came and we went to pick up our
race day gear. I learned that HHP was a place for people who had lost a
loved one. HHP was a place they could come and learn about the grief
process and be around others who could share in their pain and loss. A
very nice gentleman gave us a tour of the facility and I was shocked that such
an awesome place had existed in Amarillo and I had never heard of it.

Mother’s Day 2013 was one of the most exhilarating days of
my life. I woke up feeling very anxious, nervous, and a lot of “what ifs”.
My friend picked me up and calmed my nerves giving me all the “insider”
running tips. The race was ready to start, and as I was stretching I
noticed all these beautiful bird houses on a table by the finish line, BANG the
race was on! I ran with pride of what I had trained for, I ran to feel
free, I ran to be me, I ran to show that anyone can do what they set their mind
to! As I was running I started seeing signs on other racers shirts, they were
running for their loved one that was not longer here on Earth to cheer them on.
I was greeted at mile 6 with my husband and children holding signs they
had made the night before. “My mom is running 13.1 What is your mom
doing?” “you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you” “Go MOMMY,
you can do it!”

I felt like I had wings! I was running a HALF MARATHON!!
ME?? and I knew that I would finish it! My family met me again at mile 10 and I
needed them. I was just starting to feel my energy fading. I was
running ahead of my planned time so I thought I better text my parents and
siblings to let them know I would finish earlier than expected. As I
rounded the corner to the finish line I could see my parents, sister, nieces and
nephew. They were cheering me in and even trying to run beside me.
It is hard to put those feeling into words. I was 36 years old and
my parents looked as proud as if I were 16 running in a high school race.
I had done it, I had accomplished the unthinkable. I, Laurie
Stockard had just finished my first half marathon!

I became a disciplined runner, running when I didn’t feel
like it and even running on vacations. My life would be turned upside down
July of 2013. Our summer vacation was a very long road trip to take my
children to see where my father grew up in Maine. My parents went by
motorhome and us in our suv. On the way up we stopped at all the great
American historical sites just as my parents had done with me when I was a
child. (One of my favorites was jogging through Washington
DC.)

We arrived in Maine on Wednesday July 24th
and had dinner with my dad’s sisters; Thursday my dad showed my kids around his home town;
Friday my parents took us on the Atlantic to go whale
watching, Saturday
my cousin had us over for a lobster boil, and on Sunday morning my
dad had sudden cardiac arrest and died. Never complained of chest pain,
never felt sick, just gone. My life was forever changed in the blink of an
eye. My world shattered and my heart destroyed.

The hours, days, and weeks to follow were a fog. My
first thoughts, when I was able to form thoughts, was to call the place that had
the half marathon. The HOPE AND HEALING Place. I remembered the nice
gentleman that had given me the tour, all the books they had, all the counselors
they had, knowledge and people that understood what we were feeling and maybe
could help us put one foot in front of the other. I needed help, my
children needed help, my mother needed help, my sisters needed help, and the HHP
was able to put us all in a place where we felt ok to start the grieving
process.

I have learned a lot about grief and mourning in the last 6
months. It isn’t an easy road and no one wants to go it, however we must.
We must find a way to rise every day and find purpose in it. We must
put one foot in front of the other. I will be running the Hope and
Healing Place race again this Mothers day, May 11, 2014 with a
name on my shirt for my loved one who this year will not be able to physically
hug and cheer me on at the finish line, but I will wear it with pride for my
daddy, that will be there with me in my heart.

Laurie Stockard