If I Had Never Been a Runner
by Susan Schirl Smith

If I had never been a runner, I would have received that call early one morning during the mid 80s. There were no cell phones and no texting. No way to reach someone away from home.

I woke up at dawn, left my friend who was visiting for the weekend, and went off to the YMCA in Boston to run before I drove to New Hampshire for a college reunion. Because, in those days, I had to run, no matter what. It was my escape, my sanity, my freedom. I knew that I’d feel better seeing people from college that I hadn’t seen in six years if I had that time of meditation in motion beforehand.

After the Homecoming game, a man put his arm around me on the football field. I looked at him, puzzled at who he was. “Excuse me, do I know you?’’ I said. As I glanced at the name, Smith, on his jacket, I thought “Oh, no.“ This man was an old friend, the kind of friend where something more than friendship always simmered just under the surface, but never rose above in our college days. By the end of the dance that evening, something new had begun.

If I hadn’t run that morning, I would have taken the call that my cousin had been murdered on a beach in California. Homecoming football games, and dances, and newborn love would never have happened that day. I would have been with my family.

If I had never been a runner, the girl who was the miracle of that love would never have been born. The one who hears the story of the phone call that wasn’t and the chance meeting on a football field. Because I ran.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: My first “real” running shoes. Prior to these, they were called sneakers.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: That “meditation in motion” helped me through the loss of my cousin, and brought great joy to my life. Though my running days are behind me now, that daughter I spoke of is training to run the Boston Marathon for charity. And for her mother.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Susan Schirl Smith has worn many hats over the years: nurse, creative coach, holistic energy practitioner, photographer, among others. She has decided to put the hat of her first love, writing, back on and has been published in a holistic nursing journal as well as contributing to creative/spiritual blogs and publications. The memoir of her relationship with her brother, Desperado, is her current project. Having been told even when she lived in the New York/New Jersey area that she really had never left New England, she has decided to return home, and lives (mostly) in southern New Hampshire.