Monday, April 14, 2008

The Longer Journey

When the Matron confronts this hill on her daily 4 mile run, weariness overtakes her. Worse? See that slight bend ahead? This is what is on the other side:

More hill. Lots of this.

She lives in a neighborhood nestled high above the city, full of 100 year old houses with million dollar views. Did she say high above the city?

Very. Every day, the Matron follows the city park path that runs right along a river bluff.

Sometimes she feels sorry for herself and a just little bit whiney. Oh, about everything.

The job interview, the wrinkle that is not a flexible laugh line but a permanent entity, the economy, Stryker's disdain for hygiene, the weather, that stupid hill she must climb one more time, Satan's Familiar, Scarlett's inability to fold a sock or close a drawer, the way her husband wipes his mouth with the back of his hand instead of a napkin (only when eating cereal).

The Matron frets and whines and puffs but then she eventually goes down the same hill and sees this, every day:

This is where a boy the Matron does not know but read about in the newspaper fell off the cliff and onto the railroad tracks next to the river, hundreds and hundreds of feet below.

You can see, his name was Georgie.

Because the Matron's neighborhood is high above the city and boasts a spectacular view, he was here with thousands and thousands of other people to watch fireworks on the 4th of July.

Being a teenager and and immortal, he crossed the little wimpy one foot safety chain and got as close as he could.

His mother was standing behind him and got worried: "Be careful!"

He laughed: "I am not going to fall."

And then, he did. Just like that.

This is what the Matron read in the paper, nearly five years ago.

But every day she runs past that wooden cross. Sometimes there are new flowers. Sometimes a rosary or poem.

Every day she runs past that wooden cross and thinks about that mother and that boy and those few seconds.

She stops whining, usually because she has to cry. Again.


Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I feel the same way about the memorial at an intersection near our house. A 16 year old girl was driving home from lifeguarding at our local club--she was about 3 minutes from home when a drunk driver killed her a few years ago.

I don't know her mom, but I see her once in a while, and I always cry later.

Jennifer H said...

Those pictures showed a very long hill to climb.

Your words showed a longer one. Very sad.

SuburbanCorrespondent said...

Geez - I was going to write a funny comment about how I hate you because you manage to run every day - and then you go and make me feel shallow. Oh, well. That is a truly terrible story, one that will haunt me whenever I am near any sort of precipice with my children. Thanks.

Note to self: Cancel Grand Canyon trip this summer.

SuburbanCorrespondent said...

Sorry - couldn't help it. Call it gallows humor.

Melissa said...

Uff. That's a punch to the gut. Sure puts that run in perspective, doesn't it?

MamaBird said...

i thought you were going to say the running endorphins made you see life all differently, not this. chills. i lead such a lucky path.

Mrs. G. said...

Wow, there's a daily reality check.

Peggy Sez.. said...

Thats why I work out at home IN the house...The knowledge of what had happened there and the daily cry would be my undoing.

She She said...

Perspective is everything. Thanks for sharing yours.

Anonymous said...

I live at the top of a hill too - it's good to run hills, you don't have to run so far to get a good work out.

I am petrified of cliffs and heights though - so seeing that memorial would freak me out. What a sad story.

Lisa Milton said...


(And was just impressed that you run in the cold. Period. You're my hero.)

Cheri said...

I *heart* the Matron's heart.

Minnesota Matron said...

You guys rock. Have I said that? Gallows humor allowed, always.

Anonymous said...

How truly awful, for a mother to witness that. Stories like that are why I'm so darn over-protective. I need to go buy more cotton wool to wrap the girls in now...

Tootsie Farklepants said...

That certainly puts things in perspective.

So sad.

stephanie s. said...

The family will never know, but if they knew a person went by there on a regular basis and remembered their son it would be comforting. tom and I traveled 24 hours by plane and over 3 days by car in the middle of the Australian outback to put up a cross where my brother was killed. I took the little white cross the police put there home with me and constructed a nice one out of what we could Macguyver together from a hardware store in nowhere western australia. I hope once in a while someone sees it also and reflects. thanks mary

Heather said...

How heartbreaking for that family. One of my former co-worker's sons fell of a cliff to his death a few years ago. He was 17. That was heartbreaking too. She's a single mother, and he was one of the lights of her life.

laurie said...

actually, he jumped. he jumped to tease his mom, thinking he would land on a little ledge just a small ways below. and he missed. i will never forget that story.

Minnesota Matron said...

Oh -- Laurie. He jumped. That's worse. Thank you. I need to find that story and reread it.

Stephanie: thank you for saying this! I send love to that baby-boy-teen and his family every single day. The thought that someone might be (and probably is, people are good) doing that for your brother makes me cry one more time!!

Kimberly said...

God that is terrible. I was expecting to read that it was a young child who fell, but a teenager? It's worse in some ways. You'd expect not to have to be so watchful - that you can let up a bit. You'd hope your teen could look after him/herself better than a young child. Other than when he/she is behind the wheel, you'd think he/she is so much safer. And your story proves that theory wrong oh so terribly.

Angie said...

Oh, that story gave me an instant stomach ache. As a mother, can you even imagine?

You are one talented lady, not only do you run everyday, but you take pictures at the same time.

Domestically Challenged said...

Too sad

dkuroiwa said...

I happened to read this post before going to work this morning and I thought about it all day long. How incredibly sad for something like that to happen. But...if something like that were to (God forbid) happen to me, I think that I would feel a little better in my heart knowing that someone like you, thought about me and my son every day, even though you could take a different route, you don't.
You, my dear, have a beautiful heart.

It's 8:30 pm will send a quick "Give 'em hell Harriet" vibe to you for your meeting tomorrow...I'm tired and I may in case...HERE you go~~~~~~~~~~~!!

Anonymous said...

Here in Canada on first nations' reserves, people live in poverty. A father, one cold winter's evening this year bundled his daughters, a baby and 3 year old, the mother away and he, addled by alcohol, attempted to cross a frozen terrain to go to a friend's. He stumbled along the way, many times.

He came to consciousness late next morning in hospital, frosbitten and only then recalled his two daugthers, both found frozen feet apart, the snow and ice their chilly tomb.

I don't know, Mary, what happened to me, but I imagined their last breaths with such chilling clarity, these cherubic, innocent children submitting to the frost and I cried, as I am now.

I tell my husband we should have another child. Just in case my heart breaks.

From a Canadian fellow indentured servant, I wish you all the best today.

Minnesota Matron said...

Oh! My Canadian colleague. That is just so sad. I can just see and feel this. So you've taken on lost children as well.

The solidarity runs thick,