Two years ago, a friend died suddenly after a horrendously short battle with cancer. I guess we all have our own way of remembering and honoring people we’ve lost. I remember Peg through “Peg miles”.
I am a walker. For 25 years, I’ve walked for exercise and enjoyment. I don headphones, select my favorite exercise album, and I walk. I swing my arms, I sing along, and I do something that is rare for me… I am in the moment.
Walking makes me feel alive and grateful to be healthy and vibrant. As a cancer survivor, I don’t take that for granted. I really, really love walking.
That’s why I was devastated four years ago, when unusual complications from surgery left me unable to walk without pain. Chronic pain is hard enough to bear. When it prevents you from doing something you love, the burden is even greater. Sometimes, I would push through the pain, but the joy in walking was gone, and I was never “in the moment.”
Then Peg got sick. Over a two week period, we received increasingly dire updates on her condition. It was like watching a train going downhill without breaks, and picking up speed.
Each evening, as this was happening, I went to the walking track where I had logged many painful miles and I thought about Peg. I thought about her laugh. I thought about her quirky style. I thought about how serendipitous life is, and how fragile. What I didn’t think about was my pain, because there wasn’t any.
I don’t know why it stopped hurting. Maybe all the physical therapy and Pilates suddenly kicked in, maybe it was just a coincidence, but every evening during Peg’s illness and since then, my miles have been gloriously pain free. You don’t appreciate what it feels like to have chronic pain until it disappears, because you have forgotten how wonderful it feels not to hurt. So amidst the sadness of Peg’s dying, I got a gift. I got my walking back! I felt lucky, I felt healthy, and I felt glad to be alive.
I decided these miles needed a name, a name that stood for mindfulness, health, gratitude, being in the moment.
So ever since Peg’s death, whenever a walk is especially good, I think, “I just did four Peg miles,” and it makes me happy — happy to have enjoyed the experience, and happy to have this small, private connection with my dead friend.
Perhaps “Peg miles” are a weird way to remember someone. After all, walking is my thing, not Peg’s. She abhorred exercise! But I think she would like it. “Think of me when you do something you love.” Peg would be good with that.
What about you? Have you ever developed a personal ritual as a way of remembering someone? If so, please share it with me. I hope you get as much joy from the telling as I do.
Peg Guild was a Senior Move Manager and former NASMM President. She had a unique blend of wit and wisdom.
Her laughter was infectious.