“There’s a lot to live for. Tragedy defines you and refines you. But it doesn’t stop you.”

Some people run for the sheer challenge of completion. Some run as a “bucket list” goal. Some run for the love of the run itself. Some run for the adrenaline-packed experience wrapped up in marathoning…in racing, in general. Some run to beat a previous personal record. Some (most) run to remember. Heretofore, I’ve checked all of the above as my reasons for running…

But some run, for someone they personally know that endured a loss (or lossES) on that day in 1995…

We had been referred to “Kat”, a riding instructor, by a good friend who takes riding lessons at Shooting Star Horses. Kat had offered to begin Aiden in riding instruction, and Matthew and I were eager in our search to find the right instructor.

After his first lesson, it was easy to see the sheer elation on the boy’s face. He was thrilled, even more so than at his first lesson. He had taken one lesson before at another stable, and we were well aware that we were still “searching” for the right instructor.

Kat exhibits a quiet confidence. She has a unique and friendly voice. Aiden connected with her immediately; that lesson was different than his prior first lesson elsewhere. She had him moving on that horse from the get-go. Every bit of learning was done in the saddle and very tangibly so. I liked Kat. She had a knack with children. In my mind, she was the one…and I had all the reasons to back my choice.

In making small talk with her in the brief walk to our car that first evening, we learned more about her than we had bargained for. We asked all the WRONG questions. Matthew and I, as parents, can find common ground with most parents in simply asking about their children. “How many children do you have?” The answer that followed was atypical.

As she answered, she answered resolutely. In the answer that followed, I learned something that would continue to impact me as I got to know her better over the coming months as Aiden and I, too, continued lessons with her. (Wow. Her answer threw me. I was uncomfortable in the fact that we had brought it up at all. I was bewildered and really didn’t want her to go any further with her answer. ) She so graciously told us how, on April 19, 1995, her four year old daughter, along with her mother and father in-law, had been waiting for a 9:00 appointment in the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. (In disbelief, I shuddered at what lie in the remainder of her answer.) She proceeded to tell us how her family had been killed in the blast that occurred there that day.

In all the times I had run the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon… I had never known anyone PERSONALLY that was impacted directly by the bomb that went off that day. Matthew and I had toured the museum and the memorial. It IS a deeply moving experience. It was all planned with heartfelt commitment and the earnest hope that it would encompass all they’d lost, all they’d been taught, and all that they hoped the world would one day understand…

Around the anniversary of the bombing that year, a group of us were standing around a horse trailer after a lesson, and Kat found out we were running the OKC Memorial Marathon. I’d never seen my hard-as-nails instructor break in the slightest until that day when she relived the tragedy as she shared it, in brief, with us. A couple weeks later, I learned that my riding instructor (turned friend) had written a book about her journey in the aftermath of the bombing. I knew I wanted to read the book before I ran that marathon again. Her book, Ashley’s Garden, beautifully encapsulates her spiritual and emotional healing after suffering such a loss. I read the book quickly. It is very well-written and deeply moving, even moreso in knowing the person who penned it. Upon finishing it, I was excited to run with a deeper passion and more meaningful and personal purpose than in any race prior.

That year was my sixth time running in the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon, yet it was by far the most meaningful. Kat gave me a button to wear in memory of her daughter. I was very honored to be asked to wear one. Those miles running were miles in which I had to meditate on the impact that the evils of this world have had on SO MANY. This world is writhing with the pain of such malice and hate. In those miles, I couldn’t help thinking of a “new and living way” that should (and will) encapsulate all of mankind someday. It’s really the only hope we have when witnessing such events.

It was with zeal that I ran that race. This time not for myself, but in support of someone else. In considering Kat’s answer that first day and the friendship that has followed, I feel Matthew and I asked the RIGHT questions that day. Inadvertently, we opened an opportunity to share her story with us. Kat has shared her story with many (http://kfor.com/2015/04/16/treanor-family/) and has worked to offer encouragement to others through her experience. I dedicated my run on that year to perpetuating the story and never forgetting WHY this world MUST change. Kat accepted my finisher medal and displays the medal for the same reasons. I’m thankful she so candidly shared herself with me, giving me a LARGER reason for my marathon experience:


“We come here to remember Those who were killed, those who survived and those changed forever. May all who leave here know the impact of violence. May this memorial offer comfort, strength, peace, hope and serenity.”


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