– we cheered our heads off.
Lysle only joined his running team after his Oma had died, so she never knew about it. Had she, she would have cheered her head off, too, yesterday.
Daylight savings time made for an extra early departure, so all four of us were grumpy clambering into the cold car that morning to drive four hours to Maryland. Micah slept. Lysle read. Artie drove. I dozed.
Lysle was to run in the 4 x 400 m relay in the USATF Youth Nationals.
When I told them it was the day Oma died two years ago, he said: “Oh no, that means bad luck. We’ll be driving four hours for nothing. It means I won’t do well.”
“Doesn’t have to,” I said and left it there.
The day would show us what it meant.
Two years ago it had been the worst day of our life. Last year, on the first anniversary of the worst day, cheering wouldn’t have been right. The sunny winter beach had been and burying little letters to Oma in the sand. But this year was different. I wanted to turn it around. To do what Mama would have liked to do. To spend a day at the races.
From yellow bleachers, funnily perched like chickens in a crowded coop, we whooped and clapped, hooted, screamed and clucked – fluffed-up hysterical birds – while the runners gave it all they had. Speed, sweat, faith, at times transcendence.
The races were fast and close. Some finishes so dramatic we couldn’t tell who won until the times popped up on the scoreboard. Lysle’s team’s race turned out to be one of those. Their anchor had enough kick to catch the boy in front of him in the last few feet. They placed third. Since the event was streamed online even my brother in Germany was able to watch his nephew’s team run and then called right into the elated runners’ high and after-chatter. The four boys took home big blingy medals.
I told Lysle that he’d proven it – Oma left a lot of good with us.
In my brother’s house it was the year’s first apple blossoms on branches cut from the apple tree of her childhood garden that made the same point.
March 9 is not doomed to be a day of sadness.
It can be a day of seeing her in us all and all around.